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The Locomotive of Light

What has wheels, LED lights, Alice Waters, and a museum gallery’s worth of contemporary art—and travels across deserts, farmland, suburbs, and cities?

It's artist Doug Aitken’s latest project, Station to Station: A Nomadic Happening. For the Levi’s-sponsored endeavor, Aitken, whose multimedia work has been shown everywhere from New York’s Museum of Modern Art to the Venice Biennale, has turned an actual passenger train into a rambling art installation. Each car will be illuminated by multicolored lights, creating a roughly 3,000-mile-long light band that will travel cross-country, making eight stops before reaching its terminus at the 16th Street station in West Oakland on September 28.

At each stop, a “cultural happening” will showcase the work of renowned musicians, artists, crafty types, filmmakers, literati—you name it—including Urs Fischer, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Christian Jankowski, the Dirty Projectors, Rick Moody, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and many others. Waters and her team at Edible Schoolyard are on board to spread the gospel of the slow food movement nationally, while other local collaborators like Oakland artist David Wilson and SoMa’s independent Prelinger Library (a treasure trove of 19th- and 20th-century ephemera—old maps, periodicals, textbooks) share their visions through film until the train rolls into its final stop.


Originally published in the September 2013 issue of San Francisco

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