MOCA announces Doug Aitken exhibition for fall

Multimedia artist Doug Aitken will take over the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art’s cavernous Geffen Contemporary this fall — and the event promises to be a Happening.

On Monday, MOCA is expected to announce “Doug Aitken: Electric Earth,” a sweeping survey exhibition opening Sept. 10. With its seven large-scale video installations dating back to 1997 as well as a more recent live sound piece, it will be the first show of its kind to take a comprehensive look at more than two decades of the Venice-based artist’s work, which also includes sculpture, collages, photography and publications.

Not to mention Happenings. Aitken is known for collaborative, cross-disciplinary projects often involving dozens of other artists across multiple cities. Motion — particularly the fast flow of information — is a theme, as is the expansion and compression of time. In fall 2013, Aitken led a caravan of vintage train cars, filled with artists and musicians creating new material, on a 4,000-mile, cross-country odyssey for his art project “Station to Station” (now also a film); pop-up Happenings incorporating art shows and concerts took place in cities the trains stopped in. Last year the artist staged “Doug Aitken: Special Happening & Performance,” which included a sound installation with the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie, as well as a film screening and performances, at Schirn Kunsthalle exhibition hall in Frankfurt, Germany.

“Doug Aitken: Electric Earth” will be no exception. A series of “happenings” around the exhibition  may include lectures, performances, artist talks and musical events. The programming is still being developed.

Aitken could be considered a landscape artist of sorts with an interest in the American West, but the terrain he’s mapping is often psychological, digital, informational and even architectural, as the artist explores the confines of  the Geffen itself.

“I want this to be a very active show. I think of the museum space not as a static space, to passively view art on the wall,” Aitken said, “but an expanded film set of the mind — that’s more what I’m after.”

Aitken pushes the limits of what an exhibition can be,  MOCA Director Philippe Vergne said in a statement.

“The exhibition creates its own space and time through the fragmentation of images and sounds and becomes a work in itself,” Vergne said. “It is a total environment that acts as a broadcasting tower for the issues of our time — the ethical and aesthetic questions that frame this moment, those of human, environmental, and social entropy — and does so in a way that is immersive, making the viewer a fully participatory protagonist of the work.”

Vergne is organizing the exhibition with one of MOCA’s curatorial assistants, Anna Katz. It will run through Jan. 15, 2017.   

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