Doug Aitken

Doug Aitken

The Nomadic Studio

In this interview featuring extracts from Doug Aitken’s visually stunning videos, the American multimedia artist offers insight into his captivating work and how he learns from “watching things become a car crash in slow motion.”

“In some kind of freaky, activist way I wanted to do something that was artist driven.” On the subject of his project ‘Station to Station’ (2015), Aitken states that it was made out of necessity, as he felt frustrated by how different art forms were needlessly disconnected: “All these dialogues were kind of isolated and ghettoized in a way.” He wanted to create something in constant motion and in complete ignorance of the separation between the different mediums. This resulted in a 4000 miles train journey from New York to San Francisco with stops at every station along the way, each with a different happening: “The ambition was to use each of these locations like a one-day ‘kunsthalle’.” Moreover, by creating this “nomadic studio,” Aitken felt that he was giving back the power to the artists and minimizing the distance between the audience and what they encountered: “As the project gained momentum, it became owned by everyone who was part of it … it was this kind of explosion of creativity.”

Aitken is interested in breaking separation and opening up a dialogue: “The idea of dialogue is incredibly attractive. I’ve never really seen art as being only a singular thing.” As an artist, he keeps coming back for more out of a sense of “trying to discover where you’re positioned” and bringing about unforeseen revelations. He furthermore compares the creative process to a tree – always moving and developing into several directions at once, but also presenting the possibility of going very far out one particular branch. In continuation of this, Aitken feels that if you’re lucky, you reach a point where the artwork takes over, allowing you to move on: “You don’t really complete a work. The work completes itself.”

Doug Aitken (b. 1968) is an American artist and filmmaker, who explores every medium from film and installations to architectural inventions. Aitken’s work has been featured in numerous exhibitions around the world, such as at the Whitney Museum of Modern Art and MoMA in New York, Serpentine Gallery in London and Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. He is the recipient of prestigious awards such as the International Prize at the Venice Biennale in 1999 for the installation ‘Electric Earth’ and the 2013 Smithsonian Magazine American Ingenuity Award: Visual Arts. For more about Aitken and his work see: http://www.dougaitkenworkshop.com/

Doug Aitken was interviewed by Christian Lund at Peder Lund Gallery in Oslo, Norway in January 2016 in connection to his exhibition ‘Twilight’. Extracts from a selection of Doug Aitken’s video projects are shown during the interview, including the feature film trailer ‘Station to Station’ (2015). For more about this project see: http://stationtostation.com/

Camera: Simon Weyhe
Produced by: Christian Lund
Edited by: Klaus Elmer
Cover photo: From Doug Aitken’s ‘Altered Earth’ – Performance with Terry Riley, 2012
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2016

  • Nástio Mosquito

    What are You Willing to Die for?

    Angolan artist Nástio Mosquito has been dubbed “the future star of the art world.” He here talks about his invigorating multidisciplinary practice, which investigates universally human characteristics in a teasing, polemic and humorous way.

  • Bill Viola

    Cameras are Soul Keepers

    When video artist Bill Viola was 6 years old he fell into a lake, all the way to the bottom, to a place which seemed like paradise. "There's more than just the surface of life." Viola explains. "The real things are under the surface".

  • 11 Artists

    on Photography

    “We are so oversaturated with images, so it’s about one question: Can I hold you - can I get you to look at an image for longer than a second?” Watch Catherine Opie, Wim Wenders, Jeff Wall and 8 other artists on the power and potential of photography.

  • Marina Abramović & Ulay

    A Living Door of the Museum

    Standing naked in the main entrance of a museum, facing each other while the audience passes sideways through the small space. Legendary performance artists Marina Abramović and Ulay share the story behind their poetic work ‘Imponderabilia’.

  • The Story of Marina Abramović & Ulay

    Legendary couple in performance art – Marina Abramović and Ulay – lived together for 12 years and made pioneering work as a duo. In this extraordinary double interview the artists look back on their relationship – from their first meeting in 1975 until now.

  • Marina Abramović

    Electricity Passing Through

    For more than 50 years trailblazing performance artist Marina Abramović has used her own body and energy as her main artistic material. In this powerful interview, the artist looks back on her radical practice: “It was like the first woman walking on the moon.”

  • Wang Shu

    Architecture is a Job for God

    The Chinese architect Wang Shu’s buildings – a crossover between traditional Chinese culture and large-scale modern architecture – have earned him prestigious awards. “Democracy means a really diverse society,” says the architect in this inspiring interview.

  • Margrethe Odgaard

    Colour Diary of New York

    Becoming more aware of your surroundings can “open a new dimension inside as well as outside yourself.” Meet award-winning Danish designer Margrethe Odgaard who has trained herself to register the world through colours.

  • Nick Cave

    The World is my Skin

    Have you ever wished that you could put on a suit which would open up the imagination and take you to the world of your dreams? In this video artist Nick Cave presents his wearable sculptures, the 'Soundsuits', made from discarded everyday materials.

  • Gerhard Richter

    In Art We Find Beauty and Comfort

    “I don’t really believe art has power. But it does have value. Those who take an interest in it find solace in art. It gives them huge comfort.” Gerhard Richter, one of the greatest painters of our time, discusses beauty in the era of the internet.

  • Daniel Libeskind

    Tribute to New York

    “If you took the whole world and collapsed it into one little ball, you’d find it here, in this city.” Daniel Libeskind, world-renowned architect behind the new World Trade Center site, gives tribute to his city in this short and colourful video.

  • Julie Nord

    The Power of Drawing

    “It’s the closest you get to silence – or skin. There’s so little between me as an artist and my material.” Artist Julie Nord here shares her attraction to the "no bullshit" of drawing. Visit her studio and take a peek at how she makes her surreal, fairy tale-like drawings.