‘Akhob’ Is The Mesmerising Light Installation Hidden Inside A Louis Vuitton Store
Tucked away on the top floor of Louis Vuitton Las Vegas Crystals, you’ll find James Turrell’s light installation ‘Akhob’. Originally reserved for VIP shoppers only, the installation is now open to the public. Visits are by appointment-only.
Las Vegas isn’t necessarily known for its art. Surprisingly though, the resort town once known for its Elvis impersonators, all-you-can-eat diners and never-ending casino floors, delivers on the art front.
The Neon Museum, as its name suggests, houses neon sign relics and Seven Magic Mountains is a land-art-meets-pop-art artwork created by Ugo Rondinone and the Nevada Museum of Art that sits just 20 minutes from the iconic Vegas strip. And then there’s a slightly lesser-known single piece of art tucked away on the fourth floor of a shopping centre.
‘Akhob’ can be found inside the Louis Vuitton store at The Shops at Crystals. Its creator, the renowned James Turrell, is considered to be one of the best contemporary artists working today and the work doesn’t disappoint. The colour immersion art installation was commissioned as an experience reserved for VIP shoppers, but in recent years has been open to the public.
Though it’s now open to the public, experiencing ‘Akhob’ still requires making an appointment by phone or in-store, or by calling the Crystals concierge team.
‘Akhob’ is one of only three Turrell works in Las Vegas. Another sits inside the shopping centre itself, on the third floor near its tram station, and a third is in the home of an MGM Resorts International executive.
“We’re really honoured to have two of the three exhibits in Las Vegas,” says Monique Clements of The Shops at Crystals. “The centre is known for its architecture and known for its art exhibits and art influences so it was really nice to be able to not only add a James Turrell exhibit in a public way in our tram area, but also with a private unique exhibit within the Louis Vuitton store.”
The installation is a ‘ganzfeld effect’, a phenomenon of visual perception caused by staring at an unstructured uniform field of colour. Akhob, meaning ‘pure water’ in ancient Egyptian, is Turrell’s largest ganzfeld work to date.
Visitors are escorted up to the fourth floor in a lift, asked to put on shoe covers so as not to track dirt onto the installation’s all-white floor, and given a rundown of how the experience will play out. One-by-one, they’re then invited to climb the installation’s stairs and enter its chambers. It’s there they experience what’s described as a “light-filled void of indeterminate dimension”. Strictly no photography is allowed, and for good reason.
“You want to preserve the experience for those within the exhibit,” says Clements. “If everyone was there flashing their cameras, it wouldn’t give everyone the full experience that James Turrell intended.
“And also, Louis Vuitton is a very private brand. And it is a very private experience. Even though they extended it to the public and are allowing the public to view it, they do still want to protect it and make it this exclusive experience.”
For those who do want to document the work of Turrell, Clements suggests visiting the very Instagrammable work near the centre’s tram. With its rotating colour cycles, every photo is guaranteed to be different to the next.
Not having photos of ‘Akhob’ littered all over the internet goes a long way to setting it apart from most other public art works around the world today. Visitors must trust written or oral descriptions of the work to know that it’s worth a visit. And they’ve consistently found it to be.
“People’s minds are blown,” says Clements. “Your brain knows that you aren’t in a room that goes on for infinity, but the way everything has been designed and structured, you almost can’t believe your eyes.
“And it really completely transforms all of your senses. Some people even experience motion sickness because it’s such a complete transformation.”
To schedule an appointment to view Akhob, call (702) 739-8520.
(Lead image: ‘Akhob’ by James Turrell / supplied)
Published 31 January, 2019