Doug Aitken Demolishes 303 Gallery


Los Angeles artist Doug Aitken is destroying New York’s 303 Gallery this week. Sort of.

As an addendum to his show “100YRS,” which closed on Saturday, Aitken has devised a work around the razing of the Chelsea gallery, which is moving temporarily to make way for a new building on the same site, to which 303 will return. The project is called “100YRS Part 2,” and it extends from today through Apr. 6.

“We aim to destruct,” the artist told A.i.A. by phone from the gallery this morning, laughing.

The centerpiece of “100YRS” was a “sonic fountain,” which featured water dripping rhythmically from pipes suspended from the ceiling into a pool of milky water in a large crater dug from the gallery floor. Lightbox works were on display, meanwhile, behind large holes cut out of the gallery’s walls, anticipating a theme of demolition that is amplified in the new performance.

“At the core of the previous show was an investigation into time,” Aitken said. “The second chapter, which is more performative and aggressive, uses a set time, five days, to create live interventions that deconstruct the gallery and construct certain situations in the process.”

The actual demolition will be done outside of gallery hours, so the piece is more an evocation of demolition.

Piles of Sheetrock torn from the walls will accumulate on the floor over the course of the week. Scissor lifts will rise and fall, and several performers will use construction tools in a rhythmic manner. “They’re all construction workers, but they all also have a background in percussion,” Aitken said. “The work they’re doing falls into rhythmic patterns influenced by the sonic fountain.”

The performance adds to a tradition of artistic demolition projects, such as when Urs Fischer excavated the floor of New York gallery Gavin Brown’s enterprise in 2007, leaving a gaping pit, in a show called “You.” The work of Gordon Matta-Clark is also an obvious precedent.

“There’s definitely a legacy of works like this,” Aitken acknowledged, “but I was particularly interested in sonic qualities. I wanted to use sound as a tool to destroy the exhibition space.”