Doug Aitken, migration (empire)

Fall 2023

Doug Aitken (born 1968, Redondo Beach, CA; active New York, NY, and Los Angeles, CA), migration (empire), 2008. Single-channel video projection with billboard; 24 minutes, 28 seconds (duration). Princeton University Art Museum. Museum purchase, Fowler McCormick, Class of 1921, Fund. © Doug Aitken. Courtesy of the artist; 303 Gallery, New York; Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich; Victoria Miro, London; Regen Projects, Los Angeles

Doug Aitken’s twenty-four-minute video migration (empire) is a poetic allegory of modernity and its effects from the perspective of undomesticated animals improbably placed in contemporary human environments. A horse, two peacocks, a sprightly fox, and a lumbering bison are among the dozen species of wild animals temporarily confined in that most banal of modern American spaces: the nondescript, endlessly repeated motel room. Framed by images of industrial extraction and the circulation of natural resources for human ends, the nonhuman protagonists of Aitken’s video offer a quietly jarring critique of capitalism’s expropriation of nature and the alienating infrastructure and transiency such processes produce. Aitken, one of the most prominent video artists working today, creates cinematic works that reflect poignantly on the modern world. In migration (empire), he underscores the inherent artifice of contemporary life through a collision with creatures that exist outside human experience and norms.

The work will be on display at the Lewis Arts Complex, North Lawn.

Hours on view

August 17–September 17: 7–10 p.m. 

September 18–October 22: 6–10 p.m. 

October 23–December 10: 4:30–10 p.m.

This installation is made possible in part by Peter M. Ochs, Class of 1965, and Gail Ochs and Rachelle Belfer Malkin, Class of 1986, and Anthony E. Malkin, with cosponsorship provided by the Lewis Center for the Arts and the High Meadows Environmental Institute.