Uncommon Denominator: Nina Katchadourian at the Morgan

Nina Katchadourian, Joel Smith
9.25 x 7.5 inches
Cover type: 

Nina Katchadourian is an interdisciplinary artist whose work includes video, performance, sound, sculpture, photography, and public projects.

Born in 1968, Katchadourian grew up in Stanford, California, and spent summers on Pörtö, a small island group in the southern Finnish archipelago. Her mother comes from the Swedish- speaking minority within Finland and grew up in Helsinki; her Armenian father was raised in Beirut. After college at Brown University, where she studied art and literature, Katchadourian enrolled in the graduate art program at the University of California, San Diego. There she studied with the formerly New York–based artists David and Eleanor Antin, Helen and Newton Harrison, and Allan Kaprow.

Her traveling midcareer retrospective, “Curiouser,” originated in 2017 at the Blanton Museum of Art, Austin. She lives in Berlin and in New York City, where she is a clinical profes- sor on the faculty of the NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study.

In 2020 she began working with the Morgan’s Richard L. Menschel Curator, Joel Smith, on the third in an ongoing series of exhibitions at the museum created in collaboration with an artist. “Uncommon Denominator” is organized into a sequence of clusters that freely mix objects from the Morgan’s collections, from Katchadourian’s career, and from her personal and family history. The exhibition features a new installment in Katchadourian’s ongoing “Sorted Books” project (1993 and ongoing), created using volumes in the Morgan’s Carter Burden Collection of American Literature. Looking to approach the museum’s holdings from the personal perspectives of those who know it well, Katchadourian wrote to fifteen Morgan employees and invited each of them to discuss, one-on-one, a collection object “about which [they] have thought, ‘I’d love to see this in a show one day.’ ” To further guide these show-and- tell sessions, Katchadourian told staff, “Although it’s often discounted as a starting point for discussions like this, ‘Why you like this object’ might be an equally valid way for us to proceed.” Many of these “staff picks” are included in the exhibition.