The Owl Says “Who Wants Room Service?”

When I first heard about migration, Doug Aitken’s film projected on the exterior walls of Regen Projects II, my reflexive thought was to take my son to see it. And not because, as the press release states, the artist explores, “themes of temporality, space, memory, movement, and landscape in his work.” I can assure you that those ideas are not interesting, not to mention comprehensible, to a two-and-a-half-year-old. Rather, I thought my boy might really connect with the images—animals of all kinds set loose in hotel rooms. So, a couple of Fridays ago, we set out on another mother-son art adventure.

Doug Aitken, "migration," single channel video, installation view: Regen Projects II, 2009

Doug Aitken, "migration," installation view: Regen Projects II, 2009. Part of LA ART's Public Art Initiatives with ForYourArt—L.A.P.D. (LA Public Domain) and the City of West Hollywood's Art on the Outside Program.

When we approached migration a little after 7 pm, there were already a few viewers there, basking in the projection. A couple sat in their parked Range Rover, as if at a drive-in movie, watching intently, while a homeless man stood on the abutting sidewalk also studying the movie. My little boy, captivated, ran back and forth between the walls, naming the animals and marveling at how big they looked. I too was mesmerized and noted that, for such a quiet and graceful work of art, migration very deftly put me off my center.

Obviously, each of us watching the movie together were rapt, and I walked away thinking about the reason I came to Regen Projects in the first place—to continue my son’s ongoing introduction to art. I was pleased to find that, as hoped, migration was a great art entry point for a small child. The outdoor space was unintimidating (and ideal for wild toddlers such as mine), and the scale and subject matter of the moving images were fascinating for little eyes. Far better than watching another episode of children’s TV, as you’re apt to enjoy yourself too.

Allison Agsten

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