After slogging through the art fairs, finding an artwork that engages you to watch three times in row (and furtively look around when you realize you’ve just been laughing out loud) is definitely something to write home about. Nina Katchadourian’s In A Room Full Of Strangers (2013), is one of those works – and I’m told the edition of five was a sold-out success at Catharine Clark’s booth at the two-year old Miami Project.
Making creative use of the seemingly interminable U.S. – New Zealand flight, as well as numerous other flights since she started the series in 2010, Katchadourian’s Seat Assignment now consists of hundreds of photographs and videos, all created in transit with her cell phone using materials from her carry-on as well as those found on the plane. Works range from napkin and peanut sculptures to 15th-century Flemish hats and neck wraps created from toilet seat covers and paper towels.
For her latest compelling video selfie, once again filmed on board in a two x two foot lavatory, Katchadourian passes the time – among a plane full of strangers, singing in the bathroom where no one can see her, on a flight that seems to take a lifetime. Yes, that’s a riff on The Bee Gee’s Nights on Broadway, the audio track the artist lip-syncs to in her music video trilogy.
The visuals of her performance, spread across three monitors each featuring different close-ups of the artist in a separate plane-scavenged costume, show the artist’s face contorted as she appears to rant. The work is deliciously upended when donning the headphones it is revealed that she is lip-syncing (with an unusually fierce intensity) to the sweet disco sounds of Barry Gibb and his Bee Gee brothers. This completes the round trip music video that began on the initial flight to the sounds of another down under band, AC/DC.
Hopefully, everyone’s flights back from Miami Basel were this productive and entertaining. I myself snoozed, generously leaving the lavatories open for artist’s creative, mile high projects.