Desert X: Visiting Doug Aitken’s Mirage

March 21, 2017
- Extracurriculars
Author - Amy Jacobowitz

Doug Aitken’s Mirage sits just off Highway 111 on the scenic drive into Palm Springs.

Mirage is an entirely mirrored house, a “site-specific installation set in the Southern California desert,” the one-sheet reads that visitors are handed upon arrival at the location. The house “distills the recognizable and repetitious suburban home into the essence of its lines, reflecting, and disappearing into the vast western landscape.”

Set against the stark environment of the desert, where rocky terrain is intermingled right now with a super-bloom of flora, it’s a true sight to see for art enthusiasts and laypeople alike.

The house’s design is inspired by legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who placed value in his homes being designed in and of their environments. “Mirage is reconfigured as an architectural idea, the seemingly generic suburban home now devoid of a narrative, its inhabitants, their possessions. This minimal structure now functions entirely in response to the landscape around it.”

Indeed, walking through the vacant rooms of Mirage is a reflective experience, both literally and figuratively. The house reacts completely to those within it and around it, looking majestic on a clear day and foreboding on a dreary one. As such, it’s worth seeing more than once as with every visit to the location, you’re sure to be greeted with a different view given the time, inhabitants, and climate around.

Mirage is the brainchild of Doug Aitken, whose work we enjoyed last year in a large scale exhibit at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. As an artist and filmmaker, his work often showcases the interaction between art and environment in immersive experiences that have drawn international attention and acclaim.

This particular piece is part of a larger project called Desert X, an exhibition of art where “the Coachella Valley and its desert landscape will become the canvas for a curated exhibition of site-specific work by established and emerging artists, whose projects will amplify and articulate global and local issues that may range from climate change to starry skies, from tribal culture and immigration to tourism, gaming, and golf.” Artists involved include Doug Aitken, Sherin Guirguis, Tavares Strachan, Lita Albuquerque, Jeffrey Gibson, Gabriel Kuri, Richard Price, Rob Pruitt, Juliao Sarmento, Glenn Kaino, and Will Bonne.

Mirage is open through October 31st, and is free to visit. Find more information here.