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Mixed-Media Artist Nina Katchadourian Uses the Airplane Bathroom For Inspiration

Do Try This At Home


Artist Nina Katchadourian, who works in pretty much every medium you can imagine (video, photography, paper, sound, etc.), found herself inspired by an environment that can elicit feelings anywhere from claustrophobia to the weirdly frisky: the airplane lavatory. Using the materials at her disposal — pun not intended, and then totally intended — witness Katchadourian’s photographic experiment entitled “Lavatory Self-Portraits in the Flemish Style.” I’m going to make a wild prediction and say that “lavatorying” has serious meme potential.

From Katchadourian’s site:

While in the lavatory on a domestic flight in March 2010, I spontaneously put a tissue paper toilet cover seat cover over my head and took a picture in the mirror. The image evoked 15th-century Flemish portraiture. I decided to add more images made in this mode and planned to take advantage of a long-haul flight from San Francisco to Auckland, guessing that there were likely to be long periods of time when no one was using the lavatory on the 14-hour flight. I made several forays to the bathroom from my aisle seat, and by the time we landed I had a large group of new photographs entitled Lavatory Self-Portraits in the Flemish Style.

I was wearing a thin black scarf that I sometimes hung up on the wall behind me to create the deep black ground that is typical of these portraits.

There is no special illumination in use other than the lavatory’s own lights and all the images are shot hand-held with the camera phone. At the Dunedin Public Art gallery, the photos were framed in faux-historical frames and hung on a deep red wall reminiscent of the painting galleries in museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

So, the next time you find yourself on a plane headed across the globe, here is a way to spend your time — hogging the bathroom in the name of art. Wonderful, hilarious, creative art.

(Nina Katchadourian via Laughing Squid)

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