Sunset comes later than you think in March in Washington. The Mall was still full of people the other night when the images of Doug Aitken’s “Song 1” began to appear on the walls of the Hirshhorn Museum. The concrete drum of the building, designed by Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore Owings Merrill in the late 1960s, disappeared beneath what is essentially an extended music video. Ordinary people in mundane locations—a diner, a factory, a car —sing the classic song, “I Only Have Eyes For You,” along with a few pros in clubs and bars. (The only person I recognized was actress Tilda Swinton.) It’s a kind of global karaoke.
The project is part of director Richard Koshalek’s effort to revitalize the Cold War bunker of the museum, set on the mall, with imaginative shows. He is redesigning it by addition and experiment. The tune was introduced in 1933 in a Busby Berkeley musical film and later made a hit by Peggy Lee and the Flamingoes. The building ends up disembodied and forgotten, but you can’t get the song out of your head. [ hirshhorn ]
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