3 Questions with Nina Katchadourian


Artist and curator Nina Katchadourian on multi-tasking, avoiding isolation, and paying attention.

3 QUESTIONS is series of brief, three-question interviews with PNCA’s visiting artists and lecturers. Each year, PNCA attracts innovative, thoughtful, and creative makers and thinkers who share our belief in the transformative power of creativity. In three short answers to three short questions, these artists offer perspectives on career, motivation, and transformation. When available, we include links to audio recordings, transcripts, slideshows, or video.

The MA in Critical Theory and Creative Research (CT+CR) welcomes Nina Katchadourian as a guest artist and lecturer at the Fall 2012 CT+CR residency at Caldera, along with Sina Najafi and Dan Haegerty.

“Find something… that puts you in touch with people and the larger world outside the art world.”


Photo courtesy of the artist.

What advice would you offer current students about to embark on a career in the arts?

You are going to need to become an expert multi-tasker, and that means being as organized as possible. You need to keep a lot of balls in the air to make this whole vocation work out, and to be flexible about your idea of what “being an artist” entails. If you’re one of the rare ones in the lucky position financially NOT to have to have other jobs, you should probably get one anyway, or find something that you can dedicate time to that puts you in touch with people and the larger world outside the art world. I’ve seen people whose lives are proof that having too much time and too much money is actually NOT good for your work.

How do you maintain your creative practice? What keeps you motivated and engaged?

Without an active conversation happening with other artists or people in the art community, you get isolated, and it’s hard to stay engaged. It’s been very important for me to surround myself with people, artists and non-artists both, who make me curious, whose own work makes me want to work hard, and who keep me engaged in “the conversation.”

Could you describe a moment or experience that profoundly changed the nature of your work?

I was singing in a band in college without having any idea what I was doing and as a result I developed nodes on my vocal cords. The doctor told me that the only way to heal them was to stop speaking completely for two weeks, so for that time period I communicated by writing everything down. Having spoken language taken away from me was agonizing, at first, but then it gave way to a feeling of profound freedom induced by enhanced observation and improvised methods of communicating that were all very instructive. I also learned a lot about writing, since I had to learn how to communicate what was essential as briefly and effectively as possible in the notebook. One of my friendships changed profoundly in that time, since this person who was usually quite quiet in the face of my chattiness finally had some space to talk.

Nina Katchadourian’s work exists in a wide variety of media including photography, sculpture, video and sound. Her work has been exhibited domestically and internationally at places such as PS1/MoMA, the Serpentine Gallery, New Langton Arts, Artists Space, SculptureCenter, and the Palais de Tokyo. In 2006 the Tang Museum in Saratoga Springs exhibited a ten year survey of her work and published an accompanying monograph entitled All Forms of Attraction. Katchadourian is represented by Sara Meltzer gallery in New York and Catharine Clark gallery in San Francisco. In 2009, she spoke at PNCA as part of the Graduate Visiting Artist Lecture Series.

— Posted on 10/30 at 01:33 PM

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