Doug Aitken: Frontier [Rome]

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Third edition of Enel ContemporaneaDoug Aitken: Frontier (curated by Francesco Bonami) :: October 23 - November 23, 2009 :: Tiber Island, Rome (after @ MACRO museum of Rome (Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma).

Frontier is an open-air video installation in which the artist uses an amazing crescendo of sounds and images to depict a visionary journey in the modern world, blurring the line between fiction and reality. It is a narrative work that takes place over the course of a day, featuring the famous American painter Ed Ruscha. Its images emanate from a series of multiple screens set within a minimal, white, architectural structure with no roof, punctuated by numerous small windows that emit a glow of energy towards the exterior. A sort of modern “micro-Coliseum” with a powerful emotional and multi-sensory impact, showing a video shot in Rome, Los Angeles, Israel and South Africa - a story of everywhere and, at the same time, of nowhere.

Doug Aitken has created a work with a powerful emotional impact at the tip of the Tiber Island, a magical and legendary location in the heart of Rome, the only natural island on the Tiber, on the arm of the river that separates the famous quarter of Trastevere from the area including Piazza Navona and Campo dei Fiori.

Conceived by the artist as an ideal Energy Room, where the world of images explodes before the viewers’ eyes, the installation includes a series of videos and images that completely surround the spectator, from above, inside and outside a dedicated architectural structure that visitors can access freely.

Through the openings that characterize its surface, the architectural structure permits glimpses of fragments of the video showing inside.

The story revolves around the journey of the protagonist, a solitary individual played by the American painter Ed Ruscha, who moves through a deserted landscape. In the opening scene, the protagonist sits in a darkened movie theatre. He then leaves to begin his walkabout through a near-abandoned city, experiencing a series of initially almost insignificant encounters and situations that become gradually more intense, reflecting a profound change that is taking place, a change symbolized by the final scene in which Ruscha finds himself surrounded by a crowd of protesters. Suddenly we are returned to the initial darkness and the solitary protagonist finds himself once again, to his astonishment, inside the cinema where the story began.

Doug Aitken (Redondo Beach, California, USA, 1968) is internationally known for his works in light, sound and images, such as the video entitled Sleepwalkers, which was projected on the entire façade of the MoMA in 2007. Aitken has participated in one-man and group shows held in the foremost art institutions worldwide and his work has been exhibited in the New York MoMA, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Serpentine Gallery in London, the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Musée D’Art Moderne in Paris, among others.

Doug Aitken lives and works in Los Angeles.

The MACRO – Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma – is part of an recognized museum circuit, having hosted collectives and solo shows by the major players in international contemporary art. MACRO has two sites, one in Via Reggio Emilia, currently undergoing an expansion (New MACRO) designed by Odile Decq, and one in Testaccio (MACRO Future). Thanks in part to the variety of its spaces, the museum is able to offer a broad cross-section of cultural activities and aims to show the diversity of the contemporary scene. MACRO reopened on 16 May 2009 under the direction of Luca Massimo Barbero.