It is not only the most comprehensive solo presentation of Aitken's work in Germany and beyond, but also an exhibition transcending spatial boundaries: Elaborate film installations across entire rooms and selected sculptures in the interior, as well as a site-specific sound installation in the exterior space of the Schirn, present a survey of the major stages in his creative work.
Born in 1968 in Redondo Beach, California, Aitken transcends boundaries with his award-winning work. He combines film and music, architecture, performance and sculpture in a dynamic way. For more than 20 years, he has been creating works of art of fascinating audiovisual intensity and suggestive-seductive power. Aitken belongs to a generation of artists who have reassessed and decisively influenced the way we look at art: His works bear witness to a more profound observation of reality and reflect a philosophical analysis of the present world. In his projects, Aitken has re-formulated the exhibition model to worldwide attention. Be it with the presentation of his work on the exterior facades of museums, including “sleepwalkers” at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, or the staging of unparalleled happenings, such as “Station to Station”, a 4,000 mile train journey from New York to San Francisco.
The Schirn will present Aitken's kaleidoscopic universe in more than 1400 square meters of exhibition space. “SONG 1” (2012/2015), “Black Mirror” (2011), “migration (empire)” (2008) and “diamond sea” (1997) will be shown in atmospheric spaces with corresponding sculptures, such as “Sunset (black and white)” (2011) and “Listening” (2011). “Sonic Fountain II” (2013/2015) will transform the public and freely accessible Rotunda of the Schirn into an acoustic-spherical space. Doug Aitken takes the viewers of his work on a synesthetic journey around the world and to their inner self – in a maelstrom of expressive and rhythmically structured images. He poses existential questions, but does not provide easy answers. Instead, the artist expresses an almost ingenious enthusiasm for humanity and communal interaction. His themes continuously revolve around human civilization: the alienation of the individual and isolation in the mass; man's relationship with nature and technology; and technology’s coexistence with nature as well as human relationships per se.
The exhibition “Doug Aitken” is supported by the Gemeinnützige Kulturfonds Frankfurt RheinMain as part of its new temporary focus theme “Transit” (2015–2017).
“For more than two decades, the works by American artist Doug Aitken have expanded our possibilities of perception. For Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, Doug Aitken, for the first time, casts a retrospective look at his influential oeuvre, resulting in a parcours that renders the architecture of the building invisible while connecting the different works to form a coherent spatial unit”, says Max Hollein, Director of Schirn Kunsthalle.
Curator Matthias Ulrich about the artist: “In addition to overcoming spatial boundaries, movement and velocity form two main motifs that Doug Aitken time and again takes up in his elaborate, thoughtful and perfect work. He explores our global and steadily accelerated present. His works challenge our immediate experience, which begins with sensual perception and ends in activity. We never find ourselves in front of Doug Aitken’s works, but rather, within them.”