Confronting the landscape: Doug Aitken’s Mirage in the California desert
The artist has created a mirrored ranch-style ‘house’ for the exhibition Desert X. By Victoria Stapley-Brown
Mirage, a new work by the artist Doug Aitken, has popped up in the California desert. The work, a facsimile of a suburban ranch-style house with mirrored surfaces, is part of the exhibition of site-specific works, Desert X, founded by Susan Davis and curated by artistic director Neville Wakefield, which opens to the public this weekend (25 February-20 April).
“I wanted to take the vernacular of a West Coast suburban home… and reduce it of any human contact or belongings so it became pure form,” Aitken explains. “I wanted the form to have a dialogue with the surrounding environment.” The artist has been working on the project for about two years, “trying to find the perfect location”. That turned out to be a perch on a rocky hillside above Palm Springs, a perspective that allows visitors to view the suburban grid below them, but where such man-made environs “disappear into the desert landscape”.
Mirage has no doors or windows where you would typically find them, and there are open areas in the roof to let in the light and the elements. There is “something very organic about [Mirage], because you have the immediacy of the earth… and there’s a wind that’s constantly blowing across it”, Aitken says. Visitors can walk around the mirrored interior of the house, which has roughly the dimensions and floor plan of a typical California ranch-style home, such as a space about the size of a bedroom and an eight-foot hallway that is “a kaleidoscope of mirrors”. (The work will remain up longer than the exhibition, until 31 October.)
Image: Mirage, 2017, courtesy of Doug Aitken Workshop