After a stint in AlUla, Saudi Arabia last year, Desert X returns to its original site, the Coachella Valley in Southern California. Curated by Artistic Director Neville Wakefield and co-curator César García-Alvarez, this year’s exhibition—which runs through May 16—features 12 outdoor exhibitions by international artists, both established and emerging. This immersive art experience only comes around every two years and is produced by The Desert Biennial, a charitable organization started with the intention of bringing energy to desert locations via contemporary art exhibitions featuring site-specific installations. With thousands of art-lovers visiting the Coachella Valley each year, this exhibit was created to be an accessible way for artists from all over the world to put their work on display while incorporating the themes that are important to them. Below, the 12 works featured at this year’s exhibition.
What Lies Behind The Walls by Zahrah Alghamdi
Alghamdi is the only artist who has previously shown her work at Desert X. At last year’s exhibit in Saudi Arabia—where she resides—her piece, “Glimpses of the Past” consisted of 6,000 tin containers of varying sizes laid out across 80 meters against the terrain of AlUla, causing a mirror-like reflection of the sky and mountains. It was a reference to how AlUla has transformed into a cultural hub. For this year’s Desert X, Alghamdi used cements, soils, and dyes specific to different regions of Saudi Arabia to build a wall-like sculpture inspired by the Coachella Valley’s architecture and landscapes.
Never Forget by Nicholas Galanin
The Alaskan native was inspired by the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles, which originally said “Hollywoodland.” Galanin wanted his exhibit to spread awareness about the treatment of indigenous communities in desert regions.
ParaPivot (sempiternal clouds) by Alicja Kwade
This Berlin-based artist used a rock formation to speak to the perceptions we have about time.
Because You Know Ultimately We Will Band A Militia by Xaviera Simmons
A collection of billboards alongside the interstate, Simmons’ piece speaks to the racial narratives she feels the government has enforced.
The Wishing Well by Serge Attukwei Clottey
This sculpture represents the process of transporting water in Ghana (the artist’s native country), acting as a reminder of the many places in the world that still lack access to basic human necessities.
Women’s Qualities by Ghada Amer
Comprised of the adjectives commonly used to describe women, this piece was designed to spark conversations about gender roles.
Finding Home in My Own Flesh by Felipe Baeza
This piece is a tribute to the marginalized groups who have been integral to Palm Springs’ culture and development while not always being recognized.
Frequencies by Osca Murillo
Murillo’s creation is constructed from student desks from all over the globe. It references the fact that so many students have had to learn from home for the past year and the hope of returning to normal post pandemic.
The Art Of Taming Horses by Christopher Myers
Myers’ piece was created to reflect on the origins of the Palm Springs area prior to it becoming what we know it as today.
The Passenger by Eduardo Sarabia
An actual maze, this exhibit is meant to reference biblical narratives of exodus as well as immigrants’ journeys to find better lives.
Jackrabbit Homestead by Kim Stringfellow
Stringfellow, who is based nearby in Joshua Tree, created this mock cabin in the middle nowhere to demonstrate public-land policy and spark conversations about class status.
Tamanrasset by Vivian Suter
Due to travel restrictions, Suter could not travel to the Coachella Valley from Argentina. She did, however, still create an installation of vibrant paintings being shown in a modernist building in Palm Springs.