5 Desert X Exhibitions That’ll Make You Look (and Think) Twice

Experience Inspirational Art on a Grand Scale at Desert X 2021

Desert X is a major annual art event that strives to present international contemporary art exhibitions that engage with desert environments through site-specific installations by acclaimed artists from around the world. Running from March 12 through May 16, Desert X 2021 marks one of the first major art events to open in the US since the beginning of the pandemic. It features newly commissioned works by 13 visionary international artists, located at sites throughout the Coachella Valley. Exhibits are free and open to all. Consider these five exhibits as the starting points on your amazing artistic journey!

Exp 5/21


ParaPivot, by Alicja Kwade Desert X 2021

Consisting of interlocking frames supporting large blocks of white marble that appear as ice calved from a distant glacier, the array of steel and stone evoke a massive yet fragile universe where simple forms yield complex meanings. The experiential equivalent of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle—an effect whereby observer interaction changes the form of the thing being interacted with as you move around and through it—the sculpture and its components reform into new combinations. Time and space become distorted as rocks pulled from 200 million years ago levitate into the clear blue sky.

Location: Desert Hot Springs



What Lies Behind the Walls, by Zahrah Alghamdi

When she visited Palm Springs, Alghamdi was struck by the connection between the desert landscapes and architectures. For Desert X, she created a sculpture that depicts the traditionally built forms from her home country of Saudi Arabia with the architectural significance she found in the Coachella Valley. The result takes the form of a monolithic wall composed of stacked forms infused with cements, soils and dyes specific to each region. It expresses a unique language corresponding to feelings, emotions and memories associated with place and time.

Location: Desert Hot Springs


The Wishing Well, by Serge Attukwei Clottey

This is a sculptural installation of two large cubes draped with sheets of woven pieces of yellow plastic Kufuor gallons, or jerrycans, used to transport water in Ghana. It references the wells to which many people around the world must trek daily to access water. Introduced by Europeans to the people of Ghana to transport cooking oil, Kufuor gallons serve as a constant reminder of the legacies of empire and of global movements for environmental justice because they are repurposed relics of the colonial project in that country. As the future of the Coachella Valley is deeply dependent on water, this creates a dialogue about our shared tomorrow.

Location: North Palm Springs

Jackrabbit Homestead, by Kim Stringfellow Desert X 2021

This exhibit explores how the public land policy of the Small Tract Act of 1938 made the desert available to a new demographic of land owners and introduced an architectural vernacular whose imprint remains to this day. The 112-square-foot cabin Stringfellow created for Desert X trades the stark solitary romanticism of sand and sky for a small patch of sprawl nestled between the Palm Desert Chamber of Commerce and a CVS Pharmacy. Decontextualized in this way, the diminutive and unglamorous 1950s proletariat kit home becomes a place for conversations about class, sustainability, capitalism, public land and the commons.

Location: Palm Desert


Never Forget, by Nicholas Galanin Desert X 2021

Commanding your attention beside Hwy 111 as you enter Palm Springs, the 45-foot letters of “NEVER” reference the Hollywood sign, which initially spelled out “HOLLYWOODLAND” and was erected to promote a whites-only development. Its timing coincided with a development in Palm Springs that also connected to the film industry. Studio contracts limited actors’ travel, contributing to the city’s rise as a playground and refuge of the stars. Meanwhile, the white settler mythology of America as the land of the free and home of the brave was promoted in the West, and the landscape was cinematized through that same lens. “Never Forget” asks settler landowners to participate in the work by transferring land titles and management to local Indigenous communities.

Location: North Palm Springs


[column size=one_half position=first ]Desert X Hub at the Ace Hotel & Swim Club
701 E Palm Canyon Dr
Palm Springs, CA 92264

[column size=one_half position=last ]Pop-in Store – Super Number One x DX 21
463 N Palm Canyon Dr
Palm Springs, CA 92262[/column]


Photography Provided By: Lance Gerber

Photography Provided By: Ryan Kyle Smith
Stylists: MediaPlayPR + Wear the Future 
Content Creator/Model: Heidiisms

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