Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Carnegie International: Doug Aitken’s “Migration”

A project that was little more than a kitchen table brainstorm five months ago is now attracting attention as one of the Carnegie International’s best works. In December, when Carnegie International curator Douglas Fogle was still just talking to artists and working on his final selections, he found himself in the southern California home of film maker Doug Aitken. The two talked about projecting a film on the front of the museum. Aitken was coming off a successful piece for the Museum of Modern Art in New York and was working on a few other projects but he was excited about the possibility of being part of the International.

Aitken eventually was chosen and quickly began thinking about the piece. He came up with the idea for a film he calls “Migrations” and began shooting in Pittsburgh the third week of March. Aitken then began a migration of his own that would take him back to his home in L.A.

The film juxtaposes the natural landscape and the manmade landscape, and explores how humans have remade the country to fit their needs, including their need to feel at home even when they are halfway across the continent. Then he places the animals that once roamed the land into our environments.

A bison tosses a bed in a hotel room, a beaver explores the bathroom complete with complimentary shampoo, conditioner and coffee pot. And the omnipresent hotel television becomes the window to allow us pass between those worlds.

The work has been well received by critics and most of those who have happened upon the piece since it began showing. Aitken says he was not looking to make a film with a message or an ending. “I’m looking for a continuum, I’m looking to provoke or create a response and a personal reaction,” says Aitken, “I was after a new America, a new landscape.”

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