Desert X: Monumental new artworks rise in Coachella Valley
The sprawling, arid art biennial Desert X has returned to California, featuring open-air installations by 12 artists around the Coachella Valley, set against the neutral hues of shrublands and sandy terrain, the greenery of Palm Springs, and distant snow-capped mountains.
Curated by Neville Wakefield and Diana Campbell, the exhibition's fourth edition in the US speaks to the desert as a site formed by "the memory of water," according to a press release, with many projects exploring the circulation of water and people through the world, highlighting our interconnectedness as well as our precarity in the face of a global environmental crisis.
"The desert is a place of extreme climate, so it's a place where active thinking and adaptability are core to survival," Campell said in a phone interview. Some of the artists, she continued, "look at the role of creativity and positive social change when it comes to the environment."
Artists including Rana Begum and Tschabalala Self have each responded to the locations of their projects, resulting in architectural installations, site-specific sculptures, and multimedia works interspersed with the land.
Mario García Torres' presents a minimalist take on a herd of mechanical bulls that move and reflect the sky, Lauren Bon's pool installation is filled with the highly saline water from the Salton Sea, and Matt Johnson's expressive jumble of shipping containers speaks to the breaks in our complicated supply chains.
The group also includes a tribute to 29-year-old Tyre Nichols, who died in January three days after being brutally beaten by Memphis police officers at a traffic stop. Nichols was a photography enthusiast, and his images are shown at a massive scale on billboards along the highway.
"Desert X is really unique because it's not happening in a private sculpture park; it's happening in public space all over the Coachella Valley," Campbell said. "So it's a process of working with the artists to refine the proposals, refine the engineering and come up with projects that can hold their own as individual pieces, but that are linked together to tell a wider story."
Scroll through the above gallery to see the images from this year's edition of Desert X.