Doug Aitken @ Victoria Miro

Doug Aitken’s first solo exhibition in London for eight years occupies both floors of Victoria Miro gallery and includes a series of new light boxes accompanied by his multi-channel film installation titled ‘Black Mirror’.

On the ground floor space one can see the series of Aitken’s new light boxes and wall-based text works all placed against large monochromatic walls or hanged from the ceiling. Incorporating iconic dates and words such as 1968, 1970, 1980, RIOT and UTOPIA (and NOW also recently exhibited at London’s Frieze Art Fair) the artist refers to well-known historical moments as well as single words used and frequently seen in modern communication to express social status and anxiety. This effective presentation of commercially acclaimed slogans is a clear reference to the earlier work of American artist Edward Ruscha, whose word paintings in the 1960’s became a distinctive characteristic of the post pop art generation.

The same elements of pop art and minimalism can be observed in the film installation of Black Mirror. The film premiered earlier in 2011 in Greece, presented in DESTE’s Project Space on Hydra Island, Greece and, in synchronicity with the Hellenic Festival 2011, at a live theatre performance set on a uniquely designed barge floating off Athens and Hydra Island. The film on show at the Victoria Miro upper gallery plays across multiple screens in an impressive sleek black-mirrored box. The protagonist (played by Chloë Sevigny) is a woman moving through airport and hotel room environments. Her life is intense but, by all means, not unique; it is experienced or is part of most people’s every day lives. We have all occasionally (or more frequently) found ourselves living or working in a fast paced environment trapped in airport terminals, experienced delays, security checks and surrounded by an anonymous circuit of people. There is an artificial reality here created by modern civilisation, exposed and reproduced by Aitken; we find ourselves being isolated within the borders of this plasmatic environment while at the same time we are all playing an independent role in it.

The entire exhibition at Victoria Miro is a reference to modern life as this has evolved in the last 50 years or so and has ‘stigmatised’ us with significant historical moments and social change, all filtered with the isolation of the self, psychological repression and anonymity.
|Kostas Prapoglou