MoMA to wear its art on the outside

DOUG AITKEN burst onto an international stage at the 1999 Venice Biennale, when he showed “Electric Earth” -- a three-screen video installation that filled a room with images of urban frustration and angst -- and walked off with one of the exhibition’s top prizes. Now the Los Angeles-based artist is preparing to make a big splash on the streets of Manhattan.

The Museum of Modern Art and Creative Time, a nonprofit organization that presents innovative art in public places, have commissioned Aitken to create a site-specific work for MoMA’s midtown neighborhood. The project is a multisequence narrative on film, to be projected on seven exterior walls of the museum and nearby buildings daily from 5 to 10 p.m. Jan. 16 to Feb. 12.

Aitken, who has said “the city is about communication,” shot the film in New York and designed its sequences to play off the central city’s densely built urban environment and provide an alternative to commercial images and messages that fill much public space there.

The artwork, Aitken’s first public piece in the U.S., will present several story lines in moving images, visible from different viewpoints.


MoMA has raised hackles and pinched pocketbooks by upping its standard entry fee to $20, but the price is right for Aitken’s outdoor piece. It’s free for the looking. As the temperature drops and tourists go home, it may even be crowd-free.

Suzanne Muchnic