Discussion Topic: Old is New Again with the iPhone-Nina Katchadourian’s airplane bathroom photos

Nina Katchadourian, Lavatory Portrait in the Flemish Style

What do you do when you’re stuck on a long plane ride without wi-fi or a good book? If you’re the performance artist Nina Katchadourian, you construct a good photo with airline magazines, sugar packets, or toilet paper, which she uses copious amounts of to construct ‘fancy’ headgear for her airplane bathroom portraits. Evoking the stiff and uncomfortable headdress seen on many Flemish portraits of women, Katchadourian creates Flemish-like hats out of the limited material available on your typical flight. This may remind you of Duchamp’s readymades and how he recycled material with an ironic twist. Explore Katchadourian’s website with her airplane bathroom portraits and compare them to an iconic Flemish portrait by Hans Memling, his stellar portrait of the young 14-year-old bride Maria Portinari in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. What do you think of Katchadourian’s self-portraiture? What do you think she is saying about herself?

Hans Memling, Maria Portinari, c.1470

Seat Assignment: Lavatory Self-Portraits in the Flemish Style

Link to Hans Memling’s portraits of Tommaso and Maria Portinari at the Met

A Video of Katchadourian’s Seat Assignment


Please post your responses by Saturday, May 12th. 

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9 Responses to Discussion Topic: Old is New Again with the iPhone-Nina Katchadourian’s airplane bathroom photos

  1. smarte5 says:

    Well first off, aside from laughing myself silly at the fact that this woman Nina Katchadourian, used toilet paper & other materials found on your typical airline flight to make Flemish style portraits, I have to say that is pretty impressive. It goes to show you how creative a person can be even in the most unusual places. While viewing her photos and then comparing them to Hans Memling’s “Maria Portinari” portrait, I must say that some of Nina’s photos are strikingly similar. Just to imagine that she took those photos with limited materials like toilet paper, magazines, etc. is not only flat out hilarious but also goes to show how very unique and creative she is. My hats down to Ms. Nina Katchadourian, because me personally would have never thought of that.

  2. I think that the question of how do you entertain yourself on a long flight has been solved. I’m sure she had a blast. What an amazing burst of creativity. But aside from all that fun Katchadourian actually resembles both paintings of Hans Memling. On some photographs she looks like a male figure on others like a female. Yet it is unclear to me what were her intentions of doing such photographs, besides making something creative and funny, and yet capturing viewers attention.

  3. Safiyyah says:

    This is out of the ordinary. Looking at these photographs she was just probably very bored on this flight and she used what ever was tangible to create a photograph she thought will bring questions. Well, I agree with “Smart5” and “Denis” because anything can be photographed but what are the purposes of Katchadourian’s photographs? I think that by dressing herself in these materials and having different facial expressions that she is very creative and she works with black and white materials such as white napkins and her clothing is black.

  4. Boris Simkhayev says:

    Very unordinary to find something like this to happen on an airplane. But then again this woman most likely was bored and figured why not do something silly. In a way it looks fun and definitely something to keep you busy. This reminds me of something friends would do to one another; take a picture of something silly they are doing or see something out of the ordinary and send it to their friends. This brings out her imaginative side and I believe if you are bored or have nothing to do, this is one idea you can perform yourself and make a fun, wacky callage or album.

  5. Elvis says:

    This is the perfect example of what the human mind is capable of when it needs stimulation. This is really out of the box though, because nowadays if we don’t have an ipod,iphone,ipad or some other sort of electronic device we dont know what to do with ourselves. especially if we are on a plane. the fact that you can picture what it is that shes trying to imitake in your head is what makes her photos absolutely hilarious.

  6. ssalazar321 says:

    I must say that Nina Katchadourian is really creative and unique in her ability to use such simple items and create these portraits. I must agree with everyone else it is a funny sight because she took all these portraits while on a flight. However it clearly demonstrates how she can take something as simple as toilet paper and transform herself into a Flemish woman. Maybe she’s trying to get across that with a little imagination and creativity you can turn something simple into art and it won’t be redundant or dull, it’ll have meaning. I think what she did is amazing, something I wouldn’t be able to do. However I think these photographs clearly demonstrate modern art and the ideal that anything can be art.

  7. Most people will not do art crafts during their plane ride. Most times, we will either sleep, listen to music or read a book. However, for Nina Katchadourian to be able to make these portraits from items as simple as airplane toilet paper, and sugar packet are very creative. I believe doing those portrait will make her plane ride a lot enjoyable and faster and that is what most people need and want during their time on the plane.

  8. This is the perfect example of what artist are capable of when they challenge their creative limits. Using just an iPhone, Katchadourian captured a unique series of self portraits which depict various self expression. But, what amazes me is that her portraits turned out resemble the iconic Flemish portrait. Was she so how unconsciously inspired by Memling?

  9. Bianca Silva says:

    I find it very funny that she did that, she must have been very bored. She’s also very resourceful and creative to be able to make costume accessories for her photos from things that she was able to get her hands on, on a flying airplane. It shows that she has the eye for spotting things that can create something big.

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