A surreal way of experiencing a spectacular landscape.

Award-winning American artist and filmmaker Doug Aitken uses a variety of media to create fascinating work, from film to site-specific installations and architectural structures and interventions. His creations have been featured in MoMA and Centre Georges Pompidou. Prestigious awards include the Americans for the Arts National Arts Award: Outstanding Contributions to the Arts as well as the International Prize at the Venice Biennale, among others. Monumental and impressive in both scope and scale, the artist’s work includes “Sleepwalkers”, a MoMA exhibition that transformed a block of Manhattan with wall projections; “Altered Earth” which explored the changing landscape of Arles in France through moving images, sound and architecture; and Underwater Pavilions, which involved the anchoring of three structure to the seabed off the coast of Catalina Island. In 2017, the artist created Mirage, a site-specific architectural project.

A California ranch house-style volume, covered in mirrors.

Designed as a home with mirror walls, the sculpture reflected the surrounding desert landscape in California. In 2018, Doug Aitken relocated the sculpture to Detroit, while in 2019, he moved it to a spectacular setting: the Swiss Alps. Mirage Gstaad offers a European counterpoint to the original’s references to the projected aspirations of the American West. The concept of creating an ever-changing kaleidoscope of light, reflection, and nature also remains. The design takes inspiration from traditional ranch houses from California and features mirrors on both the exterior and interior walls.

Installed during winter, it originally reflected a white landscape. Over the course of two years, however, the structure also shifted its appearance alongside the seasons. Visitors could enter the building through an open door, which instantly transported them into a surreal, kaleidoscopic space. The purity of pristine nature and the ambition of conquering it both came into focus in the artwork. Set against the backdrop of the Videmanette mountain in Switzerland, Mirage Gstaad was part of Elevation 1049: Frequencies, a series of art performances and installations curated by Neville Wakefield and Olympia Scarry. Photography © Stefan Altenburger.

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