Most days art Critic Paul Carey-Kent spends hours on the train, traveling between his home in Southampton and his day job in Surrey. Could he, we asked, jot down whatever came into his head?
Lavatory Portrait in the Flemish Style 11
Buried in the ludicrously uneven 44 artist cavalcade of the latest Saatchi survey ‘Paper’, 20% of which could have made for a show of considerable sensitivity, are two ‘selfies’ by Nina Katchadourian, shot in the loo of a plane. She wasn’t smoking or joining the mile high club, but – of course – dressing herself in a mock-up of 18th century Flemish headgear using the materials to hand. Seen as an example of paper in art, this seemed somewhat silly (and uncomfortably reminiscent of Hendrik Kerstens’ photos of his daughter).
Yet the same images work well at the Turner Contemporary in Margate: not only are they attuned to the curatorial context of a fascinating show on ‘Curiosity’, we see more of them, and they form just a small subset of Katchadourian’s ongoing project ‘Seat Assignment’, in which she makes art out of her mobile phone camera plus whatever’s available on a plane – she splits her time between the US and Finland and has made 101 flights since 2010! Katchadourian places items from the meal over in-flight magazines to surreal effect, catches fellow passengers reflected in seat belt buckles, exploits the glare of glossy paper to create ‘high altitude spirit photography’ etc. Now her lavatory hats seem part of a persuasive exploration of resourcefulness, which comments in passing on how much of the international art-set’s time is spent in the air.
Fruity-eyed Swallow (Male) from the Birds of New Zealand series