For a constantly changing view of the Swiss Alps, head to Gstaad Mirage, an art installation by American artist Doug Aitkin.
The Mirage, a one-story house with every surface but the floor clad in mirrors, reflects its surroundings, whether they’re glistening in snow, flashing in a lightning storm or popping in fresh green grass. Time your visit for a Friday, and you might meet Stefan Werner, who takes a squeegee and a bucket of alcohol mixed with water to wipe the glass walls clean one day a week.
“It’s all about the fingerprints,” he told me as he made the walls and ceiling shine.
The installation opened here last year and will remain until January 2021. According to the artist, it’s designed as a “reflection of the dreams and aspirations projected onto the American West.”
As I stood in front of the house and watched clouds move in, it almost disappeared into the landscape. I walked up close, crouching near rows of narrow mirrored strips to get a view of the Videmanette, which forms a mountainous backdrop. Inside, I saw eight replicas of myself on the ceiling, and rows of my image lined up down a curving wall. Walking through the house will remind you of exploring a fun house, without the dizzying distortions.
The installation is the third of its kind by Aitkin. He has created similar homes in the desert of Palm Springs, and a former bank vault in Detroit. The Swiss version was adapted to withstand heavy snowfall, and was originally part of Elevation 1049: Frequencies, an art festival in Gstaad in February 2019.
Aitkin, 52, studied magazine illustration and now works in photography, print media, sculpture, architecture, film and live performance. His past works include a reflective hot air balloon and gondola in Massachusetts, and an underwater sculpture moored to the ocean floor off of Catalina Island in California.
To get to Mirage, take the short train ride from Gstaad to Schonried, then walk 15 minutes down a small path to the installation, which is open 24 hours a day. Entry is free.