Imagine the sheer serendipity of finding a world-renowned artist’s work secreted away on the top floor of a French luxury goods store, in the midst of a tacky oasis, and you’ll have only begun to appreciate the wonder of James Turrell’s “Akhob.”
Las Vegas is known for aspirations of grandeur and attempting to fulfill them by any means necessary. Fueling this mentality is a plethora of luxury stores, ready to furnish high rollers and poseurs with all the accouterments necessary to play. But a visit to the Louis Vuitton outpost lets visitors in-the-know walk away with a little added value to their shopping experience: artistic fulfillment.
In 2013, Louis Vuitton commissioned a permanent James Turrell installation to occupy a hidden space on the fourth floor of its City Center store. Called “Akhob,” a word from Egypt’s Amarna period supposedly meaning “pure water,” the piece consists of circular openings leading into two huge chambers filled with slowly changing, rotating light. Turrell calls these sort of iconic installations, for which he’s famous, “ganzfelds” or “light fields.”
The effect created is one of giving your eyes a gentle, soothing bath in the most brilliant colors imaginable. Vibrant hues shift imperceptibly from one to another, bleeding in and out of each other on a cycle that lasts 24 minutes. At times, the precise combination of colors makes it nearly impossible to find the door through which one had just entered.
With all Turrell’s artistic obfuscation, finding Akhob itself is remarkably easy; though admission is free for all, one must simply call ahead to make an appointment for admittance. Once inside the City Center Louis Vuitton store, politely inform any of the employees that you’ve come to see Akhob. From there you’ll be whisked away to their magical secret floor, separate from the store and completely private for a silent immersion experience.
The Atlas Obscura Podcast is a short, daily celebration of all the world’s strange and wondrous places. Check out this episode about Akhob.
Know Before You Go
Viewing of the installation is free and open to the public, but limited to four people at a time (private parties can have up to six), so reservations must be scheduled in advance. To make a reservation, call (702) 730-3150. NOTE: The reservations are always booked for six to eight weeks (yes, a healthy two months) solid, so call well in advance. They are open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 12 pm-5 pm. You will be required to sign a three-page release form and to remove your shoes when entering the installation.