15th century Flemish portraits recreated in airplane lavs using toilet tissue, seat-covers and paper towels


It all started when artist Nina Katchadourian went into an airplane bathroom and spontaneously improvised a 15th century Flemish costume from a toilet-seat cover and shot a suitably posed self-portrait. This inaugurated an ongoing series of wonderful 15th century Flemish-esque portraits shot in a series of airplane lavs, in which a variety of replica garb is improvised from toilet tissue, seat covers and paper towels.

While in the lavatory on a domestic flight in March 2010, I spontaneously put a tissue paper toilet cover seat cover over my head and took a picture in the mirror. The image evoked 15th-century Flemish portraiture. I decided to add more images made in this mode and planned to take advantage of a long-haul flight from San Francisco to Auckland, guessing that there were likely to be long periods of time when no one was using the lavatory on the 14-hour flight. I made several forays to the bathroom from my aisle seat, and by the time we landed I had a large group of new photographs entitled Lavatory Self-Portraits in the Flemish Style. I was wearing a thin black scarf that I sometimes hung up on the wall behind me to create the deep black ground that is typical of these portraits. There is no special illumination in use other than the lavatory's own lights and all the images are shot hand-held with the camera phone. At the Dunedin Public Art gallery, the photos were framed in faux-historical frames and hung on a deep red wall reminiscent of the painting galleries in museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Seat Assignment: Lavatory Self-Portraits in the Flemish Style

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