Art-filled 'Nomadic Happening' rolling into town

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"Station to Station: A Nomadic Happening" rolls into town Sunday for a one-night stay, bringing a mix of indie music, art and '60s-style Happenings.

A train brimming with musicians, artworks and figures from the culinary, film and literary world will unload to create a magical evening at Union Station/The Pennsylvanian, Downtown. Dubbed "a moving platform for artistic experimentation," Station to Station is the brainchild of artist Doug Aitken, known for thinking big when planning his projects.

The train, a kinetic art installation of its own that will broadcast to the Internet during its travels, launches a cross-country trip Friday at the Duggal Greenhouse, Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York. Pittsburgh is the second of nine stops thanks to a partnership with the Carnegie Museum of Art. Mr. Aitken is known here for projecting imagery onto the front and back of the museum as an exhibitor in the last Carnegie International.

The 6:30 to 11 p.m. event will begin with a procession of 12 participants in African headdress organized by Benin artist Meschac Gaba. Seminal conceptualist Lawrence Weiner has created a flag for each stop and Los Angeles artist Kathryn Andrews is designing individualized posters.

In addition to musical performances, performance art and discussions (as between Mr. Aitken and celebrity chef Alice Waters), there will be Nomadic Sculptures in yurts and site-specific artworks. Local food trucks will offer a buffet of choices.

Tickets, $25, may be purchased at (the New York event has long been sold out as are some other locations). The project, supported by Levi's, will share money from ticket sales and donations with its partner institutions through the 501(c)(3) Station to Station Cultural Fund which supports non-traditional programming. In addition to The Carnegie, those institutions are MoMA PS1, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Walker Art Center, SITE Santa Fe, Los Angeles Country Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Sundance Institute and Arcosanti Institute.

If you don't score a ticket, you can still see the yurts, which will set up outside the performance area. Nomadic Sculpture artists are Kenneth Anger, Urs Fischer, Liz Glynn, Carsten Höller (who installed a greenhouse filled with pheromone-exuding blossoms at the 2004-05 Carnegie International) and Ernesto Neto (visitors to the 1999-2000 Carnegie International navigated his diaphanous nylon room-sized enclosure).

The yurts will be one of the constants, but other presenters will change with each site, which include Chicago; St. Paul, Minn.; Lamy, N.M. (the site of the opening scenes of David Bowie's "The Man Who Fell to Earth"); Winslow, Ariz. (35 miles from James Turrell's Roden Crater); Barstow, Calif. (in a high-desert drive-in); Los Angeles and Oakland, Calif.

Robert Rauschenberg's first choreographed performance piece, "Pelican," of 1963, will be re-staged in New York. Kate Casanova's "Vivarium Americana," a 1976 AMC Pacer with living mushroom-covered interior, will appear in St. Paul. A cactus omelet recipe provided by artist Ed Ruscha will be served by forager chef Leif Hedendal to 200 in Winslow. Peter Coffin's UFO, comprising panels lit by 3,500 LED lights controlled by a Pharos computer system, will fly over Barstow. Olaf Breuning will stage a technicolor smoke performance in Oakland.

The Pittsburgh "Station to Station" website includes entries inspired by Andy Warhol and George Romero.

Pittsburgh performers will include Thurston Moore & John Moloney/Caught On Tape, Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, Kansas City Marching Cobras, No Age and YOSHIMIO + Hisham Akira Bharoocha + Ryan Sawyer TRIO. Visual artists include Francis Alys, Taylor Ruth Baldwin, Dara Birnbaum, Fischli & Weiss, Yayoi Kusama, Catherine Opie, Nam June Paik, Raymond Pettibon, Ed Ruscha and Roman Signer.

The lineups are subject to change, the website advises, but that's to be expected when fluidity is part of the concept.

"This really came out of a kind of restlessness, the feeling that art forms are too often segregated, music played in the same clubs and art shown in the same galleries and museums," Mr. Aitken said in an interview with the New York Times. "I felt like we needed to experiment with a new model. Maybe it's naive or maybe it's utopian but the question is, 'Can there be a kind of planet of voices that can exist, at least for a short time, when something like this happens?' "

• Read about the band No Age, part of "Station to Station," in Thursday's Weekend Mag.


Post-Gazette art critic Mary Thomas: or 412-263-1925.


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