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In praise of … Nina Katchadourian | Editorial

'What is art?' asks one of her constructed sentences in the Sorted images of book spines. 'Close observation,' is the reply

Faced with a long flight, many people take a Valium and doze. Nina Katchadourian, flying from her native California to take up a residency at Dunedin university in New Zealand, retired to the lavatory equipped only with her phone camera and objects found on the plane, along with a black scarf, which she draped on the wall opposite the mirror. Then she created a series of Flemish portraits. "What is art?" asks one of her constructed sentences in the Sorted images of book spines. "Close observation," is the reply. She is funny, provocative, and often unsettling. A vitrine containing a stuffed pet dog resting on a plump cushion was rejected by San Diego's museum of natural history. An outdoor installation involved playing recordings of UN interpreters mimicking bird calls through speakers hidden in trees, while another, Mended Spiderwebs, is a series of images of webs painstakingly repaired with red thread. It's a whole new way of seeing.


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