Doug Aitken's roving, cross-country art show "Station to Station," which is nearing the end of its three week journey, made a stop at Union Station Thursday night – and the event started with a snap.
Whip-cracker Chris Camp, who has performed with Aitken three times before in the past, led a procession of about 50 people from Track 13 into the central area of the station, cracking two long bullwhips at each of his sides the entire way.
The parade -- musicians banging drums, journalists with video equipment recording the event, other artists and performers as well as curious onlookers filming the scene with their iPhones -- wound its way past the restaurant Traxx and into the courtyard featuring multicolored art yurts with installations by Kenneth Anger, Urs Fischer, Liz Glynn, Carsten Holler and Ernesto.
The evening – which also included performances by Beck,
"Doug is an artist who loves to encourage the work of others," Govan emailed us after the event. "He's conducting a moving and unpredictable orchestra."
Toward that end, Glynn gave an impromptu lecture/performance in her yurt, a maze of dark industrial felt intended to reflect the changing universe. As guests slipped through its narrow passageways wearing headlamps to illuminate their way, Glynn, wrapped in a gray felt sheath, wandered in circles while muttering about interstitial space in the universe.
Afterwards, Glynn commented on how different the Union Station crowd was from the previous Tuesday night happening in Barstow: "a lot bigger, more raucous."
Indeed, not all happenings are alike – especially along Aitken's art odyssey, which has stopped for shows in Pittsburgh; Kansas City, Mo.; and Santa Fe, N.M., among other cities, and will be wrapping up its journey in Oakland on Saturday.
Whereas the Barstow desert happening was airy and mellow with glowing art yurts set against silhouetted mountain ranges, the L.A. event was something of a social gathering for the local art world.
But that's exactly the point – that each event take on the unique tempo of its surroundings and inhabitants, Aitken has said.
As Glynn put it: "It's this series of fleeting encounters – whether a film or a band or me personally lecturing – it's this intense level of experiential detail that changes depending on where it is," she said. "The question is, what will the reverberations be?"