Doug Aitken’s Mirage in Motor City
For artist Doug Aitken, it’s been a busy few months. First there was the open-all-night video bonanza New Era at 303 Gallery in New York, which dramatized the invention and success of the cell phone, then the giant Gandhi sculpture Crossing the Border in Zurich, and next up is a new installation, Mirage Detroit, opening today in Motor City.
Mirage Detroit comprises a ranch-style dwelling made of mirrors installed inside the Detroit State Savings Bank, an empty beaux arts building at the corner of Congress and Shelby downtown. Radiohead’s longtime lighting designer, Andi Watson, has orchestrated a symphony of illumination that changes throughout the day, playing off the reflective exterior surfaces and those of the maze of rooms hidden inside the structure. A surrounding, spreading field of river rocks and dirt, combed like a Japanese garden, accentuates the house’s stolid horizontal massing, and calls to mind earthworks of the seventies and eighties. A sense of emptiness fills the air—the emptiness of suburban life with its reflexive keeping-up-with-the-Joneses mentality, and of the broke city’s empty purse, evoked by the naked walls of the vacant building’s colossal skeleton.
Mirage Detroit is produced by local gallery Library Street Collective and will host public educational programs, musical performances, and conversations made possible by organizations such as Cranbrook Academy of Art and Museum of Modern Art Detroit. No end date has been set.