station to station - a 30 day happening

Doug Aitken's travelling art project comes to Barbican with a line-up featuring Suicide, Terry Riley, 88 drummers and a whole load of art and music.

by Sophia Satchell Baeza
28 May 2015, 1:55pm

Urs Fischer installation, Pittsburgh, 2013. Photography Mara McKevitt

Doug Aitken's travelling art project Station to Station will take over the Barbican for 30 days this summer in a blizzard of multimedia events. Named after David Bowie's narcotically-fuelled, post-glam, pre-Berlin album, this "living exhibition" will involve a series of cultural interventions and site-specific happenings taking place from the 27th June.

The nomadic art project was started by American multimedia artist Doug Aitken. It first took place over the course of three weeks in September 2013 as a nine-car train decked out as a moving, kinetic light sculpture. According to Sasha Frere-Jones in The New Yorker, the train was composed of vintage cars "lined with strips of metal peppered with L.E.D. lights that reacted to motion and audio, pulsing and changing colour in response." Unique material and live experiences were broadcast to a global audience as it travelled from New York City to San Francisco, making nine stops along the journey for live concert performances. It makes sense, then, that the project was named after Bowie's album and it's title track. The latter begins with the sounds of a train roaring into action, before the introduction of screams of feedback and the band's marching death clang. (Then Bowie delivers one of the greatest first lines in rock music: "The return of the thin white duke, throwing darts in lovers' eyes.") What an introduction.

Suicide, photography Pat Pope

Aitken's Barbican project promises a bold opening start also, with a number of ticketed performances already on the line-up. American proto-punk band Suicide will perform a "Punk Mass", showcasing classic material with new work (and the promise of a couple of surprise collaborations with 'famous fans'). Their phrase "A Punk Mass" was used to describe some of their very earliest live performances, and this show, the event claims "is conceived as a kind of closing of the circle; a chance for the audience and for fellow musicians to experience and pay tribute to a singular body of work." Experimental Japanese band Boredoms will direct one of the largest groups they've worked with yet. In a development of the Boardrum pieces, a guest ensemble of 88 cymbals will perform with synthesisers and EYƎ's vocals. Minimalist composer Terry Riley, who is celebrating his 80th birthday, will be presenting new work created during his residence in a studio a week prior to this performance, and will compose a completely new piece in collaboration with London-based musicians.


As if that wasn't enough, you can expect artists as varied as Raymond Pettibon, Kenneth Anger, Ed Ruscha, Stephen Shore, Lawrence Weiner, Urs Fischer, Martin Creed, Olaf Breuning, Lawrence Weiner, Tal R, Richard Long, Pedro Reyes, Boredoms, Mike Figgis, Urs Fischer, Olafur Eliasson, Anri Sala, Savages, Joanna Hogg, Marcus Coates, and many more.

We'll be able to wander through Kenneth Anger, Urs Fischer, Liz Glynn and Ernesto Netto's custom-made immersive yurts. Under the title Light Echoes, a specially commissioned interactive laser installation by Aaron Koblin and Ben Tricklebank will transform the Curve gallery. Other highlights include music from Warp acts LoneLady and Nozinja; a collaboration between artist Haroon Mirza and Factory Floor, and Olaf Breuning's multi-coloured smoke installation. If this all sounds like it might be too much to keep up with, there's an online planner on the microsite, where you can also register for the free events.

Doug Aitken's Station to Station: A 30 Day Happening will be at the Barbican from the 27th June to the 26th July 2015. 

Station To Station
Doug Aitken
The Barbican