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To Feel Something That Was Not of Our World is Nina Katchadourian’s first solo exhibition in the UK in nearly a decade. - FAD Magazine

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To Feel Something That Was Not of Our World is Nina Katchadourian’s first solo exhibition in the UK in nearly a decade.

Installation View, Nina Katchadourian: To Feel Something That Was Not of Our World, Jul 8 – Aug 5, Pace Gallery, London © Nina Katchadourian Photo: Damian Griffiths, courtesy Pace Gallery

To Feel Something That Was Not of Our World is Nina Katchadourian’s first exhibition at Pace London. Marking the American artist’s first solo show in the UK in nearly a decade, this exhibition is the result of an extensive investigation of and direct engagement with a true story that has fascinated the artist since childhood. Katchadourian’s multidisciplinary practice takes many forms, from video, drawing, photography, and performance to sculpture and sound-based work. Regardless of the discipline, Katchadourian’s guiding force is an intense curiosity that in this exhibition focuses on themes of resourcefulness, creative capacity under duress, hope, and care.

Installation View, Nina Katchadourian: To Feel Something That Was Not of Our World
Installation View, Nina Katchadourian: To Feel Something That Was Not of Our World, Jul 8 – Aug 5, Pace Gallery, London © Nina Katchadourian Photo: Damian Griffiths, courtesy Pace Gallery

To Feel Something That Was Not of Our World is a response to the experiences described in Survive the Savage Sea (1973) by Dougal Robertson, a book Katchadourian encountered aged seven and has reread nearly every year since. The book recounts the story of how Robertson, his wife, three of their children, and a friend survived for 38 days adrift in a tiny dinghy in the Pacific Ocean after a pod of orcas attacked and sank their boat. By her own description, Katchadourian has been “possessed” by this extraordinary story for most of her life.

Installation View, Nina Katchadourian: To Feel Something That Was Not of Our World
Installation View, Nina Katchadourian: To Feel Something That Was Not of Our World, Jul 8 – Aug 5, Pace Gallery, London © Nina Katchadourian Photo: Damian Griffiths, courtesy Pace Gallery

Early in the global lockdown of 2020, Katchadourian got in touch with the eldest son, Douglas Robertson, and initiated a daily exchange that lasted from 15 June to 22 July 2020 — the exact time period of the shipwreck in 1972. Their 38-day conversation took place across a series of daily, recorded phone calls from the artist’s home in Berlin to Robertson’s home in London. Just as her mother first read the account to her as a child, Katchadourian now heard Survive the Savage Sea recounted to her by one of the survivors. Katchadourian and Robertson discussed the details of each day’s events, as well as deeper questions around the mental shift from rescue to survival, and how improvisation and resourcefulness function in a situation where the stakes could not be higher.

Installation View, Nina Katchadourian: To Feel Something That Was Not of Our World, Jul 8 – Aug 5, Pace Gallery, London © Nina Katchadourian Photo: Damian Griffiths, courtesy Pace Gallery

The installation transforms the gallery space into ocean and vessel for both the story of the shipwreck and the intimate conversation between Robertson and Katchadourian. To Feel Something That Was Not of Our World invites viewers into a personal-museological exhibition of videos, sculptures, photographs, drawings, text message exchanges, and excerpts from the nearly 50 hours of audio recordings. For Katchadourian, the Robertsons’ ingenuity under pressure is central to the story’s magnetism and has deep ties to the artist’s ongoing exploration of the relationship between creativity and constraint.

Installation View, Nina Katchadourian: To Feel Something That Was Not of Our World, Jul 8 – Aug 5, Pace Gallery, London © Nina Katchadourian Photo: Damian Griffiths, courtesy Pace Gallery

There is particular resonance to the subject of a shipwreck at this moment in time when so many have experienced isolation and uncertainty, unsure of what rescue and survival will require. The title of the exhibition is a phrase from one of the interviews, where Douglas Robertson expresses his feeling of disbelief at the sight of the ship that rescued them, refusing to believe it was possible even once the ship had turned their way. When Katchadourian asks at what point he finally believed it, he answers,

“The rope…To feel something that was not us, that was not of our world — that was so good.”

Installation View, Nina Katchadourian: To Feel Something That Was Not of Our World, Jul 8 – Aug 5, Pace Gallery, London © Nina Katchadourian Photo: Damian Griffiths, courtesy Pace Gallery

This exhibition takes place on the 50th anniversary of the shipwreck during the very time period when the castaways were adrift. It will be the first time that Katchadourian and the survivors meet in person.

Nina Katchadourian To Feel Something That Was Not of Our World 8th July – 5th August Pace 5 Hanover Square, London

About the artist

Nina Katchadourian (b. 1968, Stanford, California) is an interdisciplinary artist whose work includes video, performance, sound, sculpture, photography, and public projects. Her video Accent Elimination was included at the 2015 Venice Biennial in the Armenian pavilion, which won the Golden Lion for Best National Participation.

Group exhibitions have included shows at the Serpentine Gallery, Turner Contemporary, de Appel, Palais de Tokyo, Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, Turku Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, ICA Philadelphia, Brooklyn Museum, Artists Space, SculptureCenter, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Morgan Library & Museum, and MoMA PS1. A solo museum survey of her work entitled Curiouser opened at the Blanton Museum in 2017 and traveled to the Cantor Art Center at Stanford University and the BYU Museum of Art. An accompanying monograph, also entitled Curiouser, was published in conjunction with the exhibition.

In 2016 Katchadourian created Dust Gathering, an audio tour on the subject of dust, for the Museum of Modern Art as part of their program “Artists Experiment”. Katchadourian’s work is in public and private collections including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Blanton Museum of Art, The Morgan Library & Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Margulies Collection, and Saatchi Gallery. She has won grants and awards from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Anonymous Was a Woman Foundation, the Tiffany Foundation, the American-Scandinavian Foundation, Grönqvistska Foundation, and the Nancy Graves Foundation.

Katchadourian lives and works in Brooklyn and Berlin and she is a Clinical Professor on the faculty of NYU Gallatin. In February 2023, The Morgan Library & Museum will present an exhibition of Katchadourian’s work interspersed with objects she has selected from their collection. She is represented by Catharine Clark Gallery and Pace Gallery.

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