Nina Katchadourian

Download Artist’s CV

Nina Katchadourian
Lavatory Self-Portrait in the Flemish Style #4, 2011
33.9 x 25.4 cm

Nina Katchadourian’s ongoing Seat Assignment project makes use of the most basic of materials – a camera phone, scarves, tissues – anything, in fact, readily available on board a plane during a longhaul flight. Locking herself in the toilet, Katchadourian then takes self-portrait photos on her phone (the sort of things that pepper a Facebook profile page) in the style of fifteenth century Flemish portraiture, of the kind exemplified by painters like Hugo van der Goes or Jan Van Eyck. An inflatable neck cushion, a vest draped over it, becomes a makeshift headdress; a paper toilet seat cover stands for a plain white collar. A scarf or jacket hung in the background recreates the inky depths of a painted setting.

Nina Katchadourian
Lavatory Self-Portrait in the Flemish Style #11, 2011
34 x 27 cm

The artist then recreates the solemn expressions of the Flemish sitters – their expressions designed to convey humility, or devotion – and their delicate gestures: hands held with symbolic exactitude. The DIY and speedy nature of the making of the images is at deliberate and comic odds with the meticulous naturalism and time-consuming construction of the Flemish paintings, and the stone-faced piety of the source images is wittily undercut by the use of materials associated with bodily functions. Katchadourian’s images go further than mere one-liners, though. By drawing parallels between two divergent attitudes to the power of the portrait – the Old Master belief in its ability to generate an eternal memory, versus the contemporary ubiquity and banality of the selfshot portrait – Katchadourian’s works address the notion of time in the images we make of ourselves. The faith (that the image will survive us) is the same; nothing, in the end, has really changed.

Text by Ben Street


Opening Hours:

Saatchi Gallery is currently closed. For more details, including information for JR: Chronicles ticket holders, please visit our FAQs.

Tuesday 5 January: COVID-19 / CORONAVIRUS UPDATE:

Following the UK Government’s latest announcement, Saatchi Gallery will be closed until further notice.

We will continue to review the situation, follow the guidance of Public Health England and announce our reopening date in due course.

Thank you for your patience. You can stay connected with us on social media.

Your support is more crucial than ever, please consider donating:

We look forward to welcoming you back soon.