Nina Katchadourian

Label For A Lost Object

Many years ago, during a beautiful fall dinner at a cozy restaurant, I lost my favorite hat. There was another hat hanging on the communal coat stand at the end of the night; it was also a black corduroy cap, but that’s where the similarity ended. The cords on my cap were thin and velvety; this hat was coarser, wider wale. My cap had a perfect ratio of brim- to-hat puffiness; this hat was stiffer, pointier, and tighter on the head. I’d bought my hat from a street vendor for eight dollars, and this only amplified its perfection.

I’d worn my hat on almost every cold day since I got it. I was so attached to it that the pleasure of wearing it was sometimes coupled with anxiety about losing it. I considered taking the impostor hat home—even its brief proximity to my original hat gave it a dim aura (perhaps they had touched on neighboring hooks?). But I rejected it. I would not wear the hat of a malicious upgrader.

Sulking in the car on the way home, with a cold head, I resolved to design a label that I could sew into other things in the category of “terribly distressing to lose,” and yet I dragged my feet for years, until this project (affixed to the front cover of this issue) presented an opportunity to finally make the label and close the loop. May the loss of my perfect hat save something of yours in the future.

Nina Katchadourian was born in Stanford, California, and grew up spending part of each year on a small island in the Finnish archipelago. She has lived in Brooklyn since 1996, and is represented by Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco.

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