as part of desert X, an outdoor exhibition of art installations and site-specific works currently taking place across the coachella valley, jennifer bolande has installed a series of billboards that are camouflaged among the surrounding desert landscape. as cars drive along the gene autry trail in california, they encounter ‘visible distance’, a cinematic experience animated by a sequence of larger-than-life sized photographs of mountains placed on billboards. these images have been perfectly aligned to their background, so — when viewed from a unique position along the route — the rectangle of the billboard is reconnected to the environment that exists behind it.
all photos by lance gerber / courtesy of the artist and desert X
in thinking about the installation for desert X, bolande was informed by the graphic language of billboard advertising, particularly ‘burma-shave’ motion-graphic ads. the name refers to a campaign by an american shaving cream company, whose sequential placement of highway roadside signs formed messages that could only be read from a moving car. bolande chose to turn the desert empire of roadside signs on its head, advertising the thing that is most often overlooked — the landscape. when viewing the billboard installation, audiences are prompted to contemplate their surroundings and consider the differences between real and artificial horizons.