Uncommon Denominator: Nina Katchadourian at the Morgan


Nina Katchadourian (born 1968) is a multimedia artist based in New York and Berlin. She grew up in California and spent summers on Pörtö, a small island group in southern Finland. Her mother comes from Finland’s Swedish-speaking minority and grew up in Helsinki; her Armenian father was raised in Beirut. Using photography, collage, performance, video, and other idioms, Katchadourian often arranges encounters—with nature, everyday life, or systems of knowledge—that induce what she calls “useful and revealing disorientation.” She wields humor as a strategy and conducts research through committed, serious forms of play.

For the exhibition Uncommon Denominator, the artist selected objects from the Morgan’s holdings and sequenced them with her own works and with artifacts from her family. Katchadourian first encountered many of the Morgan collection objects through show-and-tell conversations with staff members who answered her request to tell her about a piece they had always hoped to see exhibited.

The exhibition’s order obeys the artist’s expansive, imaginative logic, touching on themes that include cartography, celestial events, repair, rearrangement, concealment, record-keeping, handshakes, plants, animals, and perpetual recurrence. Katchadourian has added her commentary throughout the gallery, but inevitably every viewer will read the object-to-object connections in their own way and arrive at unique questions. “Art is a good place to practice the craft of looking and listening closely,” she notes. “Through my work, I hope to infect people with a certain rigorous attentiveness.”

This exhibition is made possible by the Charles E. Pierce Jr. Fund for Exhibitions, Richard and Ronay Menschel, the Alturas Foundation, and the Sakana Foundation. Support is provided by Wanda Kownacki, Emily MF Korteweg, Nicole Avril and Dan Gelfland, and Corina Larkin and Nigel Dawn, with assistance from Martin Z. Margulies, Megan and Paul Segre, and Larry Kauvar.