Understanding Contemporary Art: A Guide to “Nina Katchadourian: Curiouser”

 In MOA Features

Guest Post by Megan Mayfield, MOA Marketing Intern

The BYU Museum of Art’s newest exhibit Nina Katchadourian: Curiouser is now open. The exhibit features solo work from the Brooklyn/Berlin based contemporary artist, Nina Katchadourian. Katchadourian uses the inspiration from childhood summers in Finland as well as the varied heritage of her family to fuel many of her works. Inside Curiouser, you won’t find a single painting. Instead, Katchadourian focuses on mediums such as video, sculpture, sound, and photography.

Underlying Curiouser are the themes of family, language, and translation. “Curiouser,” as a word, is the state of being more curious but Katchadourian sees it as a profession as well. Similar to a doctor or lawyer, Nina Katchadourian is a “curiouser.” Her work embodies the question “What if…?” as she explores the world around her and sees it in new ways.

Talking Popcorn, the first artwork that patrons see within the exhibition, is a popcorn machine connected to a Morse Code program (created by Katchadourian and Josh Goldberg), translates the popping of the popcorn into Morse Code and then into “popcornese” that is spoken aloud. Talking Popcorn creates an audial, rather than visual, experience and explores Katachadourian’s love of the Morse Code language.

Katchadourian’s project Seat Assignment (2010-ongoing) is limited to what Katchadourian can create on an airplane. The project has created a number of works such as Lavatory Self-Portraits in the Flemish Style, Landscapes, and Disasters. The project comes with constraints such as the amount of time on the flight and the availability of materials. The Seat Assignment project addresses the question of “What do you do when art isn’t possible?” Katchadourian brilliantly finds a way to create art from found objects and the limited props around her anyways.

Nina Katchadourian advises to always be curious, maintain a childlike wonder, and just create. As you walk through Nina Katchadourian: Curiouser, look for the influences of language and family and how it has played a role in Katchadourian’s work. Maintain your curiosity as you explore the art and come away with a fresh, new perspective.


Nina Katchadourian: Curiouser is organized by the Blanton Museum of Art.

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