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Art Spotlight: Desert X 2021

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.

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.

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.

This Berlin-based artist used a rock formation to speak to the perceptions we have about time.

A collection of billboards alongside the interstate, Simmons’ piece speaks to the racial narratives she feels the government has enforced.

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.

Comprised of the adjectives commonly used to describe women, this piece was designed to spark conversations about gender roles.

This piece is a tribute to the marginalized groups who have been integral to Palm Springs’ culture and development while not always being recognized.

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.

Myers’ piece was created to reflect on the origins of the Palm Springs area prior to it becoming what we know it as today.

An actual maze, this exhibit is meant to reference biblical narratives of exodus as well as immigrants’ journeys to find better lives.

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.

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.

Since all installations are spread throughout the Coachella Valley, plan your visit and learn more about Desert X by referencing the map, downloading the Desert X app, or visiting the DX Hub at the Ace Hotel Palm Springs.