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Desert X installation view of Doug Aitken, MIRAGE. 2017 | Photo Lance Gerber. Courtesy the artist and Desert X.
Desert X installation view of Doug Aitken, MIRAGE. 2017 | Photo Lance Gerber. Courtesy the artist and Desert X.
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Doug Aitken Turns a House into a Kaleidoscopic Wonder in the Californian Desert

Picture of Freire Barnes
Art & Design Editor
Updated: 23 October 2017
American artist Doug Aitken has transformed a suburban, ranch-like house into a reflective mirage as part of the first new site-specific exhibition, Desert X.
Desert X installation view of Doug Aitken, MIRAGE. 2017
Desert X installation view of Doug Aitken, MIRAGE. 2017 | Photo Lance Gerber. Courtesy the artist and Desert X.

Known for his sculptures, films, installations and architectural interventions that explore the flux of daily contemporary life, Aitken transforms aspects of the everyday into something fantastical and awe-inspiring. Suddenly, the things we take for granted can be seen in a new way, changing our experience of the mundane and giving new purpose to the often overlooked.

As part of Desert X, curated by Neville Wakefield, Doug Aitken has created MIRAGE, a mirrored structure situated in the Southern Californian desert. Inspired by architecture synonymous with the West, Aitken has given the Californian ranch style home a reflective makeover.

Desert X installation view of Doug Aitken, MIRAGE. 2017
Desert X installation view of Doug Aitken, MIRAGE. 2017 | Photo Lance Gerber. Courtesy the artist and Desert X.

The popularity of ranch style houses grew after World War II. In part informed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s belief that architecture should ‘be both in and of the landscape’, commercial builders soon developed an efficient assembly design so that the one-storey homes could match the rapid growth of the suburbs.

Render of MIRAGE
Render of MIRAGE | Courtesy of Doug Aitken Workshop

Relieving the building of its original intention, Aitken creates a space that directly responds to its environment, while at the same time creating a spot for contemplation and intellectual reflection.

Desert X installation view of Doug Aitken, MIRAGE. 2017
Desert X installation view of Doug Aitken, MIRAGE. 2017 | Photo Lance Gerber. Courtesy the artist and Desert X.
Desert X installation view of Doug Aitken, MIRAGE. 2017
Desert X installation view of Doug Aitken, MIRAGE. 2017 | Photo Lance Gerber. Courtesy the artist and Desert X.

Similar to his recent project Underwater Pavilions, installed off the coast of Santa Catalina Island, California, MIRAGE reacts to the rugged San Jacinto mountain range. The mirrored surfaces create endless and ever-changing views of the desertscape, so no one visit will ever be the same.

Desert X, a new multi-venue, site-specific exhibition, has invited international artists to respond to the unique conditions of Palm Springs. Engaging the surrounding community, works explore environmental, social and cultural themes specific to the Coachella Valley.

Desert X installation view of Doug Aitken, MIRAGE. 2017
Desert X installation view of Doug Aitken, MIRAGE. 2017 | Photo Lance Gerber. Courtesy the artist and Desert X.
Render of MIRAGE interior
Render of MIRAGE interior | Courtesy of Doug Aitken Workshop

Doug Aitken: MIRAGE in Palm Springs, California is currently closed. Check the website for updates on when the work will reopen to the public free of charge.

Want to see more inspiring art? Check out Arnaud Lapierres Reflective Sculpture in Shanghai