American artist Doug Aitken looks to reconnect our senses to the natural world in a new solo exhibition entitled HOWL. Housed at Galerie Eva Presenhuber in Zurich, each room in the show resembles a different landscape and is accompanied by sculptural artworks that guide visitors throughout the space.
The Los Angeles-based artist is also debuting a new film installation that examines the lives of residents from a barren desert town that relied on oil drilling and excavation as its primary industry. While the film isn’t necessarily a documentary, Aitken weaves a portrait of the past, in which the inhabitants speak of their ideal utopia and visions of the future.
A familiar pattern emerges from one scene to another; particularly in Aitken’s use of sound, as the voices of the residents echo throughout the arid desert, blending with the drum of machines extracting oil. The resulting soundscape merges human and machine in an eerie reflection of our own present times — or as the gallery notes, “the repetition is a metaphor for modern life; do we stay in motion, repeating our actions or do we find a way to break a pattern and change?
Panning out from the film, Aitken probes into a number of prevalent topics within the world. Namely, the climate emergency, along with humankind’s relationship with technology and the adverse effects cast on the environment through our extraction of natural resources. Like the residents of the desert, Aitken asks the audience to ponder the question: “what should our future look like?”
Witness HOWL as it’s on view at Galerie Eva Presenhuber until July 22.