L.A. Artist Debuts New Installation "Don't Forget to Breathe"
Timed to coincide with Frieze L.A., Doug Aitken's newest installation — found on the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Highland Avenue — poses provocative questions for the digital age.
Paused at a stoplight at the intersection of Highland Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood, observant drivers will notice a young woman, glowing in a storefront in the mini-mall next to Trejo's Coffee and Donuts. She stands perfectly still, phone pressed to her ear. Behind her glows another figure, seated on the floor, knees bent, also on the phone. Across from her, a third individual reclines as he talks, his translucent glass body, like the others, pulsing a variety of colors, sometimes in rhythm with the vocal mesh around them, sometimes not.
Closer examination reveals that their hands are empty. The trio collected in the former retail space are not for sale, nor are they shoppers, but are instead "Modern Figures" at the heart of artist Doug Aitken's disruptive new installation, Don’t Forget to Breathe, on view Feb. 8 through 17.
"There’s a kind of strange dance or choreography that we’re all involved in, this courtship with the future, this question of how do we navigate new forms of communication or a form of hyper-connectivity. This artwork looks to explore that terrain," Aitken says of both the new installation created in collaboration with RYOT, with support from Regen Projects and Galerie Eva Presenhuber, as well as new works showing via his New York gallery, 303 Gallery, at Frieze Los Angeles — including various media like the three-dimensional piece, HEAT, as well as a light-box sculpture, Midnight Sun (distant view with pools), exploring similar themes of isolation and dematerialization through digital engagement.
Such existential notions are translated into the retail context, as brick and mortar spaces increasingly become a thing of the past. It was a point not lost on Aitken over the months spent driving around, looking for the right space. "Over time you realize that all these places are going out of business. The strip malls are empty, the storefronts are empty," he says. "There's this kind of ghost land of retail. The occupation of the urban and suburban space is changing."