When I first saw the series by "Lavatory Self-Portraits in the Flemish Style" series by Nina Katchadourian, I laughed out loud. And they still make me laugh every time I see them. Not many photographs can make me do that, but how can you not?!
Here's how the project started: "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 using my cellphone. 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."
Here is what I like about these images: Katchadourian looked at an everyday object, saw what it might resemble when photographed, took the nearest camera at hand and went to town. Who says you need high end cameras and fancy sets and tons of lights to make a photograph that has an immediate impact??!! I also like the references to Dutch portrait painting, similar to the work of Hendrik Kerstens. Kerstens and Katchadourian have similar impulses and influences, and it's really intriguing to see how differently they express themselves. The next time you see a painting like "Girl With a Pearl Earring" (see below) think of them!