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b. 1968, USA

Doug Aitken Biography

The practice of Doug Aitken is most widely recognised as immersive, collaborative and engaged with both the art world and the wider world. This approach results in works in a variety of media such as video, sculpture and photography.

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Aitken is perhaps best known for his 'nomadic happening', Station to Station (2013) in which he invited artists such as Olafur Eliasson, Patti Smith and Urs Fischer, amongst others, to participate in a cross-country nine-carriage train ride from New York to California, spontaneously collaborating to create art, food and music along the way. There were nine stops, and a 'happening' (an art-related performance event) occurred at each stop. The train was covered in LED screens; along the way a visual light installation continuously played. The project was intended as an alternative art experience. Instead of being held in a gallery or institution, the art travelled, grew and became a presence in every moment of the artist's life. In 2015, this event recreated itself at the Barbican Centre in the form of Station to Station: A 30 Day Happening. Described as a 'living exhibition', over its month-long existence it played host to more than 100 contemporary artists, musicians, dancers, filmmakers and designers.

In late 2016, during his solo exhibition Doug Aitken: Electric Earth (10 September 2016–15 January 2017) at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Aitken installed Underwater Pavilions off the coast of Catalina Island, California. Underwater Pavilions consisted of three hexagon-shaped spheres submerged between five and 50 feet underwater. Viewers had to dive to view the work and could swim both in and around the spheres. The spheres contained panels sculpted from artificial rock and mirror. The mirrored surfaces induced a kaleidoscopic effect; in an interview with The New York Times Aitken remarked on the experience of this effect, 'I could see the ocean floor above me and the sun below me'. The objects' shiny and multifarious surfaces cause them to seem continuously in flux—affected by tides, sunlight, sun, fish and divers. Rather than sculptures or monuments, they are living things. The work is based on Aitken's philosophy that to make art living, one should immerse it in the real world and allow it to experience the flux of nature.

In 2017, Aitken participated in Desert X—the art biennial of Palm Springs, California, featuring 16 artists including Gabriel Kuri, Claudia Comte and Armando Lerma. For the event, Aitken created Mirage—a ranch-style home in Coachella Valley covered on every surface by mirrors. The ranch style of architecture was developed in the 1920s and 1930s by combining Frank Lloyd Wright's modernist architecture and traditional western ranches. After World War II, the style boomed and became a fixture of the Californian landscape. By turning the quintessential Californian architecture into a house of mirrors, Mirage may change with its surrounding nature—blending in but perhaps standing out even more so in the process. In the struggle between the natural and the artificial, the house plays on both sides. Aitken works with the materiality of the suburban west, illustrating the vast power of the landscape and the history of architecture's attempted encroachment upon it.

Casey Carsel | Ocula | 2017

Exhibition view: Doug Aitken, Microcosmos, Victoria Miro, Venice (15 July–30 October 2021). © Doug Aitken. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London/Venice.

Doug Aitken Featured Artworks

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Turning Point by Doug Aitken contemporary artwork
Doug AitkenTurning Point, 2021Mixed fabrics
157.5 x 157.5 cm
Victoria Miro Enquire
Changing Point by Doug Aitken contemporary artwork
Doug AitkenChanging Point, 2021Mixed fabrics
157.5 x 157.5 cm
Victoria Miro Enquire
no direction home by Doug Aitken contemporary artwork
Doug Aitkenno direction home, 2008C-print mounted on aluminium, framed
122 x 152.5 cm
Galerie Eva Presenhuber Contact Gallery
grounded by Doug Aitken contemporary artwork
Doug Aitkengrounded, 2008C-print mounted on aluminium, framed
122 x 152.5 cm
Galerie Eva Presenhuber Contact Gallery
Inside Out (chimes/medium) by Doug Aitken contemporary artwork
Doug AitkenInside Out (chimes/medium), 2019Mirrored metal and silent motor
Victoria Miro Enquire
Shock and Awe (two chairs and pool) by Doug Aitken contemporary artwork
Doug AitkenShock and Awe (two chairs and pool), 2019Chromogenic transparency on acrylic in aluminium lightbox with LEDs
172 x 316 x 18 cm
Victoria Miro Enquire
Inside Out by Doug Aitken contemporary artwork
Doug AitkenInside Out, 2019Zebrino marble, stainless steel
178 x 117 x 122 cm
Victoria Miro Enquire

Doug Aitken Current & Recent Exhibitions

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Doug Aitken Represented By

Galerie Eva Presenhuber contemporary art gallery in Maag Areal, Zürich, Zurich, Switzerland Galerie Eva Presenhuber New York, Zurich
Victoria Miro contemporary art gallery in Wharf Road, London, United Kingdom Victoria Miro London, New York, Venice

Doug Aitken In Ocula Magazine

In Ocula Advisory

Doug Aitken In Related Press

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Doug Aitken In Video & Audio

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