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Sunday, April 1, 2012

DOUG AITKEN: SONG 1 @ THE HIRSHHORN


Twilight; a unique time of ending and beginning.  The bridge between night and day. Wonderment and magic live at twilight. Outside the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington D.C. a sort of magic was born a little over a week ago. Beginning at twilight and running until midnight every night through May 13th this massive doughnut of a building (The Hirshhorn) and it’s unusual 360’round exterior will make for an event like no other. The lights and sounds of the city that normally accent the building were enhanced by a multi-media achievement by Doug Aitken;  ”Song 1.” This is something extraordinary!
Doug Aitken has created the grandest of illusions. An illusion that rivals David Copperfield and Houdini on a scale that no other artist; save for Christo has ever attempted. Even when seeing a film on an IMAX screen we are limited to a single perspective. The Hirshhorn’s shape allows the viewer multiple vantage points that are enhanced by the sculptures, trees, buildings and traffic that surround the structure. The museum is literally transformed into a work of art and in a very real way disappears. This is a work that can be enjoyed by all that will have the incredible fortune to see and hear it. This work is both exuberant and subtle; remarkable in it’s splendor. It is to the credit of Doug Aitken that he doesn’t try to overwhelm but uses the subtle romantic standard “I Only Have Eyes For You” as his sound track and center. The lyrics themselves are completely appropriate  ” I don’t know if we’re in a garden… or on a crowed Avenue…”   The Hirshhorn  offers both. The visuals are complementary to the music and lyrics and give us something that is Zen like and I found myself entranced by it all. The massiveness of the building; the lightness of the projection and music are a perfect counter-balance. The video loops seamlessly for the duration of time as it physically loops the structure. Digital technology has made this a possibility that would have fallen short at an earlier time. This was a shared experience like no other as onlookers sat on walls and in cars, stood on the sidewalks and were equally awed by the presentation. “Song  1” is for the romantic…it transcends even the notion of art. It is that good. A pure thing that exists simple to exist, to transport and enrapture.



I saw this unusual exhibition that redefines the notion of every similar thing on the first Saturday of it’s opening week. The usual excitement of DC subsides after dark on the National Mall and this was something of an enchanted evening. It was very close to Heaven that night to walk around the Hirshhorn, around “The Mall,” around midnight.


Inside the Hirshhorn
  

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