Why it’s tricky to “see” the Mirage Project by Doug Aitken

GoldenPass MOB Panoramic Train, Switzerland

Imagine a house of mirrors amid the Swiss Alps.

Multimedia artist Doug Aitken, born in California in 1968, is known for his sculptures, photography, film and architectural interventions. How exciting that Aitken has recently brought his much coveted Mirage project to the Gstaad region in Switzerland.

Reflecting on the Mirage Project by Doug Aitken

After staging it in the desert of Palm Springs and installing the house inside a historic building in Detroit, the snow covered Swiss mountains were his next destination. The minimal ranch style house, completely covered in mirrors, acts as a large kaleidoscope.

The Mirage reflects both the surrounding landscape as well as the observer, thus challenging our preconceived notions about interior and exterior, subject and object.

Mirage Chalet in Gstaad by Doug Aitken

As you approach the building, you will notice that sometimes, parts of the Mirage almost disappear through an illusion caused by the reflections:

Mirage Chalet in Gstaad by Doug Aitken

Unsure how to keep a clear head confronted with all these reflections?

And as you get even closer, you will see the same effect on your body. I was really surprised that even though no curved mirrors were employed, the installation appeared very much alive. It challenged my sight and comprehension of what exactly was being reflected where...

Mirage Chalet in Gstaad by Doug Aitken

The inside of the Mirage is divided into several rooms, with each one boasting generous openings to the outside. Here, the reflection game is at its best:

Mirage Chalet in Gstaad by Doug Aitken

All the windows essentially become picture frames showing the beautiful landscape and mountains. Since Mirage will stay for two years, it will definitely be interesting to see how it adapts to the changing seasons.

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Mirage Chalet in Gstaad by Doug Aitken

After your visit, I recommend you to either walk back to Schönried or continue in the other direction towards Gstaad (about 50 minutes). In case you decide to walk to Gstaad, you will notice several farms just next to the trail that hawk local cheese and sausages.

How to visit the Mirage Project by Doug Aitken

The Mirage will remain in this location near Gstaad until January 2021. The best way to visit is by taking the train to the Schönried station.

From there, it is about a 15-minute walk to the site of the mirror house. As with all Swiss hiking trails, there are abundant signs starting from the train station. Here is a helpful trail map, just in case.

My all-time favorite train to and from Gstaad is the GoldenPass MOB Belle Epoque. Entering it is like stepping back in time!

GoldenPass MOB Panoramic Train, Switzerland

The "Belle Epoque" composition leaves Montreux twice a day at 8:44 AM and 1:44 PM. From Zweisimmen, it departs at 11:05 AM and 4:25 PM daily.

Here, we are traveling in style through a forest:

GoldenPass MOB Panoramic Train, Switzerland
GoldenPass MOB Panoramic Train, Switzerland

(All photographs copyright Dominik Gehl)

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Dominik Gehl

Based in Lausanne, Dominik Gehl is a software engineer by day. His hobbies include traveling the world, reading and photography. Oh, and he loves coffee and tea. All images © Dominik Gehl.
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