Doug Aitken's first solo exhibition in London for eight years will occupy both floors of Victoria Miro and include a specially reconfigured presentation of his acclaimed multi-channel film installation Black Mirror, alongside new wall-and floor-based sculptures and light box works.
The exhibition starts with Sympathy for the Devil. In a dimly lit room a light-modulating microphone - cast from the model used to record the 1968 Rolling Stones hit of the same name - plays out the demo of the famous opening lines: "Please allow me to introduce myself. I am a man of wealth and taste". Thus begins Aitken's enquiry into collective history, suggested through fragments of pop culture and stories from the media that act upon us on an almost subconscious level. Through out the exhibition Aitken takes these elements, rendering them in a variety of forms to create an immersive installation formulated in dialogue with the architecture of the gallery.
In the lower gallery the visitor will encounter a series of Aitken's new light boxes and wall-based text works that draw on the legacy of post-pop and minimalism. Featuring iconic words, numbers or dates - One, Utopia, Riot, 1968, 1980 - these works reclaim the commercial landscape of signage in order to underscore the cultural potency of language and image condensed together into singular phases and shared historical moments. The artist has described these text pieces as possessing a 'toughness' that echoes the abbreviated nature of much contemporary communication. Terse, yet slippery in meaning, they function as provocative statements, becoming a fragmented kaleidoscope through which to experience the exhibition.
In the upper gallery Aitken's film installation Black Mirror explores the story of a nomadic individual, set in a modern wilderness: a geography constructed of calls, electronic messages, and virtual documents superimposed over the physical world. It is a portrait of people who are the products of a society that has lost track of information and is saturated with change. The characters move in shorthand, they communicate in quick pulses, they travel long distances for short meetings. They depart quickly.
The protagonist, a young woman played by American star Chloë Sevigny, exists in the borderless world of Black Mirror where people live fast lives in the shadows. These are the people you pass and don't identify at the airport terminal, the hotel lobby and the car rental kiosk. Black Mirror explores modern life accelerated. Like a river of light moving on the highway, we're all on this road, but this is the story of those for whom the road is existence; those who don't step back to breathe the air, those who never stagnate or stop... this is "the now."
Aitken's art dances to such complex rhythms. Ultimately, however, it stems from generosity. Treating the world as his studio, he edits together frenetic shards of contemporary experience, to create a new landscape, one in which he hopes we find points of anchor and experience a sense of connection.
Black Mirror premiered earlier this year in Greece and is an artwork in multiple forms - a site specific multi-channel video installation - which was presented in DESTE's Project Space on Hydra Island, Greece and, in synchronicity, a live theatre performance set on a uniquely designed barge floating off Athens and Hydra Island.
Sympathy for the Devil courtesy Anna Lena, Paris.
Doug Aitken was born in California in 1968. He lives and works in Los Angeles. Widely known for his innovative fine art installations, Doug Aitken is at the forefront of 21st century communication. Utilizing a wide array of media and artistic approaches, his eye leads us into a world where time, space, and memory are fluid concepts.
Aitken's body of work ranges from photography, sculpture, and architectural interventions, to films, sound, single and multi-channel video works, and installations. His work has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions around the world, in such institutions as the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Museum of Modern Art, the Vienna Secession, the Serpentine Gallery in London and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. He participated in the Whitney Biennial 1997 and 2000 and earned the International Prize at the Venice Biennale in 1999 for the installation "electric earth".
Aitken's "Sleepwalkers" exhibition at MoMA in 2007 transformed an entire block of Manhattan into an expansive cinematic experience as he covered the museum's exteriors walls with projections. In 2009, his Sonic Pavilion opened to the public in the forested hills of Brazil at the new cultural foundation INHOTIM.