Rolling thunder: Doug Aitken’s ’Station to Station’ arrives at the Barbican

Station to station poster
The American artist and film-maker Doug Aitken's 'Station to Station: a 30 day happening' is a multifaceted arts event best described as a 'living exhibition' and an 'experiment in spontaneous artistic creation'. Courtesy of the Barbican Centre
(Image credit: Rob Stothard)

Taking residence throughout the Barbican's brutalist warren for the next month, the American artist and film-maker Doug Aitken's 'Station to Station: a 30 day happening' is a multifaceted arts event best described as a 'living exhibition' and an 'experiment in spontaneous artistic creation'. 

Sounds nebulous? It is – but in a good way. Until 26 July, the centre will host 50 performances, 20 residencies, rehearsals, workshops and talks involving more than 100 international and UK-based artists from the world of contemporary art, music, dance, graphic design and film. 

The range of participating artists working in and responding to the complex's galleries, concert halls, cinemas and terraces is almost laughable in breadth and scope: from immersive yurts by Kenneth Anger and Urs Fischer, to a smoke installation by Olaf Breuning and a new interactive laser commission by the digital artists Aaron Koblin and Ben Tricklebank; through residencies and performances by Martin Creed, Jeremy Deller and Anri Sala; cinema installations and screenings featuring work by Raymond Pettibon, Jane Pollard and Iain Forsyth, Simon Armitage and Aitken's own Station to Station feature film; and a plethora of performances from London-based community bands and choirs, talks, workshops and design interventions. 

Perhaps most intriguing of all is the event's musical offering, which features a Boredoms-led 88-cymbal-players performance and the presentation of six new modular synth pieces by Mica Levi (as well as performances and happenings by Carnet de Voyage (Rosey Chan and Mimi Xu), Charlemagne Palestine, Demdike Stare, J Spaceman and The Vinyl Factory). 

To say this only scratches the surface of the programme is something of an understatement – pulling off such an unwieldy and sprawling event will be an achievement in itself. 

Despite this, the Barbican's staging of Aitken's festival-cum-happening is just the latest iteration of a project that has already travelled the breadth of North America, taking in both major cities and off-grid locations in a 24 day, 4,000 mile Atlantic-to-Pacific jaunt in 2013. 

''Station to Station' is a platform for progressive culture and new artistic experimentation,' explains Aitken. 'It will be amazing to see [it] come to life in London in such a unique, multi-arts environment as the Barbican. This is a living exhibition with artists of all mediums, creating unique works and unpredictable encounters every day.'

Man talking to two woman

''Station to Station' is a platform for progressive culture and new artistic experimentation,' Aitken explains. Courtesy of the Barbican Centre

(Image credit: Rob Stothard)

Red room with a sofa in the middle

The interior of Kenneth Anger’s yurt, featuring the films Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome, 1966; Invocation of My Demon Brother, 1969; Lucifer Rising, 1980

(Image credit: Mara McKevitt)

People standing in an orange room

The interior of Ernesto Neto's yurt installation. Courtesy of the Barbican Centre

(Image credit: Marl Allan )

Man performing an Indian dance

The Rajasthan Heritage Brass Band perform
at 'Station to Station'. Courtesy of the Barbican Centre

(Image credit: Rob Stothard)

Colourful powder in the sky

Olaf Breuning's smoke installation. Courtesy of the Barbican Centre

(Image credit: Rob Stothard )

Hula hoop performer

The event features performances by hula hoop group Marawa the Amazing and her Majorettes. Courtesy of the Barbican Centre

(Image credit: Rob Stothard)

Room with a light installation

LA-based digital artists Aaron Koblin and Ben Tricklebank present a new installation, Light Echoes

(Image credit: Ben Tricklebank)

Light typography on walls

The Barbican's Curve is transformed into a dark, immersive environment for the installation; the vistors' movements are tracked and revealed as abstractions. Courtesy of the Barbican Centre

(Image credit: Marl Allan)

Man signing and holding a guitar

Martin Creed rehearses a new performance piece including painting, music and choreography

(Image credit: Hugo Glendinning)

Man wearing a deer antler hat

Marcus Coates is resident in the Art Gallery five days a week throughout the event's duration. 

(Image credit: Kate MacGarry)

Man and woman sitting

Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard will create a new film inspired by Milton’s Paradise Lost, capturing the architecture and atmosphere of the Barbican, with rushes presented alongside a Q&A during the closing weekend.

(Image credit: Amelia Troubridge)

People around a table attending a workshop

Design Marketo host four hands-on workshops focusing on handmade incense, alcoholic preservation, using grains to make music and looking at how bread can be entertaining. (Pictured: 'Food Marketo', 2010.) 

(Image credit: Amandine Alessandra)

Man and woman sitting and on the floor

The film space at 'Station to Station' Courtesy of the Barbican Centre

(Image credit: Rob Stothard)

An art piece

New Movement Collective, with ScanLAB Projects and cellist Oliver Coates, take over the Art Gallery for a week. 

(Image credit: ScanLab)

Man playing a piano

Terry Riley will be writing music for an ensemble featuring brass, toy pianos, percussion, prepared piano and children’s choir, culminating in a Concert Hall performance of new material. (Pictured: Riley performs as part of Doug Aitken’s 'Altered Earth', 2012.) 

(Image credit: Doug Aitken Workshop)

Music band posing outside

Japanese noise rock troupe Boredoms will lead an 88-cymbal-players performance in the Concert Hall

(Image credit: TBC)

Woman standing

Composer and musician Mica Levi will work on six new pieces for modular synth

(Image credit: Steven Legere)

Plate of food

Ed Ruscha’s cactus omelette dinner will apear at the Barbican iteration of 'Station to Station'. (Pictured: Ruscha's fare at the Winslow happening, 2013.) 

(Image credit: Ye Rin Mok)

Man holding a vinyl in a vinyl printing machine

A number of new music and live performances are to be pressed by The Vinyl Factory’s mobile pressing unit, The Vinyl Factory Press, as part of the limited edition series of 'Station to Station' records. Courtesy of the Barbican Centre

(Image credit: Rob Stothard )

Director sitting on a chair and surrounding by others

The Barbican's staging of Aitken's festival-cum-happening is just the latest iteration of a project that has already travelled the breadth of North America, taking in both major cities and off-grid locations in a 24 day, 4,000 mile Atlantic-to-Pacific jaunt in 2013. Courtesy of the LUMA Foundation

(Image credit: Alayna Van Dervort)

Woman holding a poser of station to station

''Station to Station' is a platform for progressive culture and new artistic experimentation,' explains Aitken. 'It will be amazing to see [it] come to life in London in such a unique, multi-arts environment as the Barbican. Courtesy of the Barbican Centre

(Image credit: Rob Stothard / Getty Images)

ADDRESS

Barbican Centre
Silk Street
London, EC2Y 8DS

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