Some artists are defined by how they use a specific material or how they work within the confines of a medium. Doug Aitken, who dabbles in everything from painting to photography to performance, is not that kind of artist. In fact, his 2013 endeavor, Station to Station, blurred defining artistic lines so messily that Aitken prefers to call the piece a “happening.” This work entailed artists of seemingly every type hopping on and off a transcontinental train, experimenting with collaboration and performance throughout. The stationary version of the project took place at London’s Barbican this past summer. We caught up with Aitken on his recent visit to NeueHouse Madison Square, hoping to learn a bit more about the man behind this impressive body of work.
NeueJournal: What’s your first memory of your mother?
Doug Aitken: I couldn’t sleep unless I was in a moving car, so my mom had to drive me around. All my memories of my mother are in motion, in her 60s mustang driving through Beach Cities in California.
NJ: What did you care about most when you were 10 years old?
DA: Becoming eleven… you always want to be older.
NJ: Who deserves an Oscar that hasn’t ever received one?
DA: There is such a long list. Give one to Werner Herzog… for everything. I think usually the people that deserve those awards don’t get them anyways. It’s a really capitalist award and often it doesn’t show too much as to how experimental a director is.
NJ: How does the internet work?
DA: It’s a box that you plug in the wall.
NJ: Who was your last text from and what did it say?
DA: Let’s see… I guess it was to Ugo Rondinone. I just visited him up in Harlem. He converted a Church into an art studio by the Apollo.
NJ: What snack can single-handedly return you to sanity?
DA: Cheese Fondue. Without a doubt.
NJ: What superstition do you believe in?
DA: None. Not superstitious at all. Although it is Halloween Eve…
NJ: How would you describe the color yellow to a blind person?
DA: Well it kind of looks like what a lemon tastes like I guess.
Photography: Manolo Campion for NeueJournal