Celebrating its new installations and the renovation of the second floor, the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin held the Blanton Block Party on Saturday, March 26. The event included live music from a variety of local Austin talent, such as the Mariachi Paredes de Tejastitlan, Misimplicity, Anthropos Arts and Charlie Belle, as well as food from local businesses such as Pinkberry, Tamale Addiction, Burro Cheese Kitchen and East Side King.
Story by Urub Khawaja
Photos by Kiana Fernandez
The newest installation on the first floor features the work of Nina Katchadourian, an Armenian-American artist. Katchadourian’s exhibit is called “Curiouser.” “The title was a suggestion by my friend Joel Smith, and we’ve been tossing around the idea between calling the show ‘Curiouser’ and ‘Curious,’” Katchadourian says. “He was like, ‘I think just Curiouser,’ and we both really liked that as a word—it’s kind of a little awkward, which I’m fond of awkward if you haven’t noticed by now.”
As a child, she said she was much more engaged in making music than making art. She said it was the “more important creative pursuit” until she discovered art. Katchadourian now combines her visuals with sounds to create sound-art, and she also teaches a sound-art class at New York University. “There’s something about putting a ‘sound’ work in a sort of visual arts environment,” Katchadourian says. “People are usually a bit disarmed because they’re not used to using the senses that they didn’t expect to use."
Much of Katchadourian’s work in this exhibit revolves around the themes of language and travelling. “Talking Popcorn” is a piece she made in 2001 that is currently on display at the Blanton. This piece contains a popcorn machine with a microphone inside it, which records the sounds the popcorn makes in the machine. The sounds are then translated into morse code, which Katchadourian features in “The Popcorn Journal,” a list of the the words made by the popcorn machine.
Another piece of Katchadourian’s work on display is “Accent Elimination,” a piece that has six TVs showing Katchadourian and her parents. Her parents are both foreign-born, her mother being Finnish and her father being Armenian. This piece features Katchadourian trying to imitate their accents while her parents try to imitate an American accent. Some other pieces on display at the Blanton are “Paranormal Postcards” and “Sorted Books,” which showcase a series of postcards and images of book title arrangements. Katchadourian’s art is typically made in series. She will create one item and then continue to make variations of the same piece. “With a project like ‘Sorted Books,’ it changes every time you use a new collection, and the results are never the same,” Katchadourian says. “It is an ongoing experiment. Maybe the seriality is just a reflection of the curiosity of trying to see what else might be there.”
Katchadourian's exhibit will be at the Blanton Art Museum until June 11.