November 16, 2006 - Public Art Fund - Nina Katchadourian’s Office Semaphore
November 16, 2006

Nina Katchadourian’s Office Semaphore

Public Art Fund presents
Nina Katchadourian
Office Semaphore

November 16 – January 14, 2007

At One Chase Manhattan Plaza
Lower Manhattan, New York

Ever spot someone in a distant office window and wonder what is going on in his or her life? Part message decoding, part small-scale reality show, artist Nina Katchadourians Office Semaphore is a signaling system in which one person, who works on an upper story of an office building, communicates messages to people outside on street level. A telescope is installed on the northeastern corner of One Chase Manhattan Plaza in a canyon of tall office buildings. Peering into the telescope, viewers will find it is trained on an office in a building a few blocks away. Each day, the person who works in that office the anonymous protagonist of the piece arranges a group of objects in his window. Each combination represents a specific message, which viewers down at street level can decode using a visual key located beside the telescope. The objects themselves office supplies and personal knickknacks found in the participants workspace form a portrait of this individual, although he will remain largely unseen. Over time, these daily dispatches will register shifts in the mood in the office and in the persons workday life.
Office Semaphore is an adaptation of traditional marine flag signaling systems, which are used by ships at sea to convey urgent messages to one another such as I require a tug, Directions received but not understood, or Must alter course. Noting the day-to-day relevance and poetic resonance of these standard nautical messages, Katchadourian has used them as the basis for the project. Some are borrowed with little or no change, while others are written by the artist in the same language and tonality. The phrases, both existing and created, were chosen and developed with the office worker in order to express the kinds of problems, victories and challenges he might encounter in a day on the job. The work also relates directly to its site, which is in a neighborhood with a rich maritime history.

Bridging public and private realms, as well as the distinct activities of sightseeing and working, Office Semaphore draws together Katchadourians interests in communication, urban experience and everyday interventions. It offers the viewer a glimpse into one of the countless worlds that exist within the citys many office buildings, which typically seem so impersonal and impenetrable when seen from the outside.
About the artist
Nina Katchadourians wide-ranging, inventive conceptual practice encompasses sculpture, photography, video, sound, and public projects in which she highlights and alters familiar systems with unlikely observations, interventions and improvements, resulting in irreverent, memorable works that are at once philosophical and accessible. She has created several works that relate to language, codes and translation, including Talking Popcorn (2001), a machine that uses Morse Code to interpret the sound of popping popcorn, and her ongoing series, Sorted Books (1993 – present), in which she selects books from a library or collection and orders them so that their titles communicate a broader message when taken together.

Katchadourian was born in Stanford, California, and lives and works in Brooklyn. She received a BA from Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island (1989); an MFA from the University of California, San Diego (1993); and participated in the Whitney Independent Study Program (1996). Her work has been presented in several solo exhibitions including a ten-year survey entitled Opener 11: Nina Katchadourian: All Forms of Attraction at the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York (2006); Please, Please, Pleased to Meetcha at Wave Hill, Bronx (2006); Nina Katchadourian: Natural Misunderstandings at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, Wisconsin (2006); Works Made in Finland by Nina Katchadourian, Turku Art Museum, Finland (2006); The Geneology of the Supermarket and Other New Works at Sara Meltzer Gallery, New York (2005) and Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco (2006).
The telescope will be installed on the northeastern corner of One Chase Manhattan Plaza, which is bordered by Pine, Liberty, Nassau and William Streets in Lower Manhattan. Stairway entrances to the plaza are located on Pine Street (at William Street), on Nassau Street (at Cedar Street), and on William Street (at Cedar Street). This exhibition is free and open to the public at all times. Subways: 2, 3 to Wall Street; 4, 5 to Wall Street; J, M, Z to Broad Street.
Sponsorship Office Semaphore is a project of the Public Art Fund program In the Public Realm, which is supported by the Starry Night Fund of Tides Foundation and, in part, by public funds from National Endowment for the Arts; New York State Council on the Arts, A State Agency; and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

Special thanks to Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, JPMorgan Chase, The Law Offices of Michael E. Pressman, and Time Equities.
Public Art Fund is New Yorks leading presenter of artists projects, new commissions, installations and exhibitions in public spaces. For almost 30 years, the Public Art Fund has been committed to working with emerging and established artists to produce innovative exhibitions of contemporary art throughout New York City. By bringing artworks outside the traditional context of museums and galleries, the Public Art Fund provides a unique platform for an unparalleled public encounter with the art of our time.

Recent and current critically acclaimed exhibitions and presentations include Sarah Morriss Robert Towne at Lever House (on view through December 3, 2006); Alexander Calder in New York at City Hall Park (on view through March 18, 2007); Anish Kapoors Sky Mirror at Rockefeller Center (2006); Sarah Szes Corner Plot at Doris C. Freedman Plaza (2006); Nancy Rubinss Big Pleasure Point at Lincoln Center (2006).

Public Art Fund is a non-profit arts organization supported by generous contributions from individuals, foundations, and corporations, and with public funds from National Endowment for the Arts; New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency; and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.


Press contact:
Anne Wehr or Jane Koh

Public Art Fund
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