ON SIGHT: Nina Katchadourian: Sorted Books
September 2 – October 23 Every Day, 10 am – 7 pm
Feldman Gallery + Project Space
Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA)
Posted by: Nicole Leaper
Photos by: Sara Regan
Nina Katchadourian‘s Sorted Books is installed against a vivid red background in the Feldman Gallery at Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA). The intense color accentuates photographs of books spines against black backdrops lined up in neat rows on the gallery’s walls. Katchadourian’s book-sorting projects began in 1993 and continue through the present. For each project, she visits a personal or public library and selects and stacks books so titles can be read in sequence. She has produced over 130 book clusters to date, and her current show at PNCA is comprised of sortings at six different libraries from 1993 through 2008.
Katchadourian’s work examines the act of collecting, the collector, and the collection itself simultaneously, but does so in a gently facetious way. The stacked titles are often humorous takes on the libraries’ subjects and on the owners of the libraries as well. The title sequences are both cultural commentary and personal portrait, but intended as as snapshots of each, meant to be absorbed only as facets or glimpses of the subjects.
Katchadourian’s process pre-dates the current explosion of information collecting, sorting, and curating (think Flickr sets and de.li.cious tags) which drive our information experiences online, but reflects this form of human cultural expression perfectly, and in an amusingly pre-digital way. That we are drawn to the “realness” of books is timeless, and that we hold on to certain books through the years speaks of a truly personal (and often private) expression. Katchadourian explores the value of books but also the transitory nature of information; once the books are unsorted, the meaning she imposes disappears. The work reminds us not only that we are what we read but that we continually curate the exhibition that is ourselves.