Desert X is a site-specific, contemporary art exhibition that is held in the Coachella Valley in Southern California. It came into existence with a different idea, a unique idea, of bringing together art and Southern California’s road trip tradition and turning the Coachella Valley into an open-air art gallery. Contrary to the modern day exhibition of artworks where you can find different types of artworks all under one roof, the Desert X exhibition is normally outdoors and takes place once every two years.
Although the Coachella Valley is a source of inspiration for artists seeking to create large-scale works that exist outside the typical gallery space, artists also have to consider the intense sun, extreme changes in temperature and violent winds experienced in the desert. It requires patience, cars, maps, GPS and the knowledge that you won’t see every piece of artwork in just one day.
The first edition of art biennial Desert X took place in 2017 from February 25-April 3oth and had works spread across the Coachella Valley. While putting together the exhibition, director Neville Wakefield and the curatorial team Amanda Hunt and Matthew Schum sought artists who were willing to engage with and respond to the specific history of the Coachella Valley and not just its beauty. The edition attracted more than 200,000 people including collectors, artists and museum groups. It showed works from artists such as Doug Aitken, Jennifer Bolande, Claudia Comte, Jeffrey Gibson and Glenn Kaino among many other recognized contemporary artists.
The highly anticipated 2nd edition of Desert X touched down on February 9th, 2019 and will run through to April 21st 2019 with works from 18 artists selected by artistic director and co-curators. The show also includes a work of art “Shybot” by Norma Jeane which got lost during the first edition of Desert X and was found by a local maintenance worker. This edition is expected to be even bigger and better and for the second time it will again activate California’s desert landscape through site-specific installations by renowned international contemporary artists.
The artists participating in this year’s art festival include: Jenny Holzer, Mary Kelly, Ivan Argote and Sterling Ruby among many others. Jenny Holzer, known for her text-centric installations will present “Before I Became Afraid,” a piece addressing gin violence, with poetry projected on the mountain landscape. Mary Kelly will be showing “Peace is the only shelter” Ivan Argote will be presenting “A point of view” and Sterling Ruby will be showing “Specter.”
Visiting the Desert X is absolutely free and self-guided with maps of the artworks available at various locations and online. It is going to be so amazing to have double fun; go on a drive or walk and to have more than just a glimpse of different artworks and for the selfie-lovers, why not capture a moment or two?