childhood dreams, aliens & cowboys collide in desert X sculptural exhibit at coachella valley

childhood dreams, aliens & cowboys collide in desert X sculptural exhibit at coachella valley

art 498 shares connections: 13

Desert X 2023 at Coachella Valley

 

From March 4 to May 7, 2023, Desert X, a biennial outdoor art exhibit spread across California’s Coachella Valley, will decorate the desert landscape with a series of sculptural works and site-specific installations. Created by multiple artists from diverse backgrounds, the installations draw on a range of concepts, including childhood dreams, science fiction characters, conspiracy theorists, and cowboy culture, to present a sculptural spectacle that opens up new ways of looking at the arid setting. The collection of works includes a sculpture made of ‘sleeping’ containers, an old car taken over by otherworldly creatures, clusters of silver balloons flying in the sky, as well as a giant board game base embedded in a desert field.

 

No.1225 Chainlink by Rana Begum

 

Influenced by minimalism and childhood experiences, British-Bangladeshi artist Rana Begum presents a site-specific installation titled ‘No.1225 Chainlink.’ The work, which blurs boundaries between sculpture, design, and architecture, responds to the ubiquitous chain-link fence that forms a pattern across the Coachella Valley, using a material meant to protect but also associated with violence. The result is a bright yellow, cloud-like pavilion that interacts with light, air, sand, and water, offering ‘paths of expansive escape rather than reductive confinement’. The installation constantly changes with the movement of the sun and the visitors within, emphasizing that nothing in life is static – everything, from the outside world to our feelings within, is in a constant state of flux.

childhood dreams, aliens & cowboys collide in desert X sculptural exhibit at coachella valley
Desert X 2023 installation view, Rana Begum, No.1225 Chainlink | photo by Lance Gerber, courtesy of the artist and Desert X

childhood dreams, aliens & cowboys collide in desert X sculptural exhibit at coachella valley
Desert X 2023 installation view, Rana Begum, No.1225 Chainlink | photo by Lance Gerber, courtesy of the artist and Desert X

 

 

The Smallest Sea with the Largest Heart by Lauren Bon

 

Los Angeles-based environmental artist Lauren Bon and her practice Metabolic Studio unveil ‘The Smallest Sea with the Largest Heart.’ The poetic installation features a lace-like steel sculpture of a to-scale blue whale heart, submerged in a small pool pumped full of Salton Sea water. Instead of serving as a harbinger death, the sculpture metabolizes and generates energy and clean water that it releases back into the atmosphere, strengthening the potential for future life over the duration of the exhibition while visually transforming itself in the process. The work, which combines swimming pools with water and fish-bone skeletal ‘sand’ in a landscape associated with tremendous water scarcity, reminds us not only of the need for artists to create on the same level as society’s ability to destroy, but also of our own connection to water and that the desert was once a sea.

childhood dreams, aliens & cowboys collide in desert X sculptural exhibit at coachella valley
Desert X 2023 installation view, Lauren Bon, The Smallest Sea with the Largest Heart | photo by Lance Gerber, courtesy of the artist and Desert X

childhood dreams, aliens & cowboys collide in desert X sculptural exhibit at coachella valley
Desert X 2023 installation view, Lauren Bon, The Smallest Sea with the Largest Heart | photo by Lance Gerber, courtesy of the artist and Desert X

 

 

Amar a Dios en Tierra de Indios, Es Oficio Maternal by Paloma Contreras Lomas

 

Mexico City-based artist Paloma Contreras Lomas, known for her exploration of themes such as patriarchy, violence, class segregation, colonial guilt and constructed middle, presents ‘Amar a Dios en Tierra de Indios, Es Oficio Maternal.’ The sculpture presents itself as an aging car that has come to a stop in Sunnylands, while an absurd array of entwined limbs of two mysterious figures in long hats sprawl out of the car and onto the pristine, manicured grounds of the site. Plush, long hands armed with padded rifles hang out of the windows, barely camouflaged by the artificial undergrowth that overgrows the sculpture. These strange characters accompany the visitor on a caricature of a western-meets-scifi audiovisual tour of the landscape, like a fictional tour of a seemingly familiar world outside, guided by aliens and ghosts.

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Desert X 2023 installation view, Paloma Contreras Lomas, Amar a Dios en Tierra de Indios, Es Oficio Maternal | photo by Lance Gerber, courtesy the artist and Desert X

childhood dreams, aliens & cowboys collide in desert X sculptural exhibit at coachella valley
Desert X 2023 installation view, Paloma Contreras Lomas, Amar a Dios en Tierra de Indios, Es Oficio Maternal | photo by Lance Gerber, courtesy the artist and Desert X

 

 

Immersion by Gerald Clarke 

 

Artist, university professor, cowboy, and Cahuilla tribal leader Gerald Clarke understands the role that games can play in helping people gain knowledge they might not seek on their own. Using the language of traditional Cahuilla basketry and American board games, the artist creates a monumental sculpture of a game board in the desert that immerses visitors in the natural and cultural history of Native Americans in the Coachella Valley. The maze-like structure invites visitors to traverse it and move according to the instructions of a deck of cards, rewarding the player with new perspectives and a new understanding of the landscape.

childhood dreams, aliens & cowboys collide in desert X sculptural exhibit at coachella valley
Desert X 2023 installation view, Gerald Clarke, Immersion | photo by Lance Gerber, courtesy of the artist and Desert X

childhood dreams, aliens & cowboys collide in desert X sculptural exhibit at coachella valley
Desert X 2023 installation view, Gerald Clarke, Immersion | photo by Lance Gerber, courtesy of the artist and Desert X

 

Liquid A Place by Torkwase Dyson

 

‘Liquid A Place’ is part of an ongoing series that starts from the premise that we are the water in space, inviting viewers to consider their physical connection to the rivers and oceans that surround us. This notion is based on the fact that about 60 percent of our bodies and 70 percent of the planet are made up of water, and this water circulates throughout our bodies and the planet as it changes state from solid to liquid to gas. For this iteration of Liquid A Place, Dyson creates a monumental sculpture that is a poetic meditation that combines the memory of water in the body and the memory of water in the desert.

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Desert X 2023 installation view, Torkwase Dyson, Liquid A Place | photo by Lance Gerber, courtesy of the artist and Desert X

childhood dreams, aliens & cowboys collide in desert X sculptural exhibit at coachella valley
Desert X 2023 installation view, Torkwase Dyson, Liquid A Place | photo by Lance Gerber, courtesy of the artist and Desert X

 

 

Searching For The Sky (While Maintaining Equilibrium) By Mario García Torres

 

Searching for the Sky (While Maintaining Equilibrium) is a reflection on the ‘cowboy culture that exists on both the Mexican and American borders and represents a macho, high-handed, and forceful domination of nature. These characteristics also relate to the history of art, particularly in the American West. The installation touches on the idea that in cowboy culture, as well as in land art, there is a promise to dominate nature that comes with a pronounced risk of failure. In his installation for Desert X, the artist recreates a bull-riding scene, replacing the bull component with a flat, geometric, reflective surface slowing down the machine’s movement to gradually reveal what this object really is.

childhood dreams, aliens & cowboys collide in desert X sculptural exhibit at coachella valley
Desert X 2023 installation view, Mario García Torres, Searching for the Sky (While Maintaining Equilibrium) | photo by Lance Gerber, courtesy of the artist and Desert X

childhood dreams, aliens & cowboys collide in desert X sculptural exhibit at coachella valley
Desert X 2023 installation view, Mario García Torres, Searching for the Sky (While Maintaining Equilibrium) | photo by Lance Gerber, courtesy of the artist and Desert X

 

 

Namak Nazar by HYLOZOIC/DESIRES

 

Hylozoic/Desires, or h/d, uses metaphors from outer space and the natural environment to create an imaginary cosmology of interference, entanglements deep voids, debris, delays, alienation, distance, and intimacy. In Desert X, they find this metaphor in salt. Inspired by the proliferation of conspiracies-UFOlogists, Scientologists, cybernetic spiritualists, Area 51, Apartment-Earthers, Lizardmen, and chemtrails-H/D has created a wooden column that branches into speakers spewing an imaginary conspiracy theory about Namak Nazar, a salt particle that evokes the demise of climate change and offers redemption by looking inward. The particle seems to rise and crystallize above the trunk of the post, creating a connection between the salt heard in the stories from the loudspeaker and the physical desert landscape, where salt lines predict future droughts and floods and salt songs describe the sacred geometry of the desert before settler colonialism.

childhood dreams, aliens & cowboys collide in desert X sculptural exhibit at coachella valley
Desert X 2023 installation view, Hylozoic/Desires, Namak Nazar | photo by Lance Gerber, courtesy of the artist and Desert X

childhood dreams, aliens & cowboys collide in desert X sculptural exhibit at coachella valley
Desert X 2023 installation view, Hylozoic/Desires, Namak Nazar | photo by Lance Gerber, courtesy of the artist and Desert X

 

 

Sleeping Figure by Matt Johnson

 

Matt Johnson is known for his ironic combinations of everyday subjects with raw physical matter. His sculptures explore the paradox of visual forms through unorthodox and surprising materials. The sculpture presented at Desert X 2023, Sleeping Figure, could be a cubist rendition of a classical odalisque, except that the cubes are shipping containers belonging to the globalized movement of goods and trade. Created at the time a Japanese-owned, Taiwanese-operated, German-managed, Panamanian-flagged, and Indian-manned container giant was under Egyptian jurisdiction for six days while blockading the Suez Canal, Johnson’s work speaks to the fault lines and fractures of a supply chain economy in distress. Located on the main artery connecting the Port of Los Angeles to the inland United States, the sculpture takes on local significance with the recent approval of distribution centers north of Palm Springs and Desert Hot Springs. Casually and laconically, it overlooks the landscape, reminding us that the invisible hand of globalization, now joined to its container body, has come to rest in the Coachella Valley.

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Desert X 2023 installation view, Matt Johnson, Sleeping Figure | photo by Lance Gerber, courtesy of the artist and Desert X

childhood dreams, aliens & cowboys collide in desert X sculptural exhibit at coachella valley
Desert X 2023 installation view, Matt Johnson, Sleeping Figure | photo by Lance Gerber, courtesy of the artist and Desert X

 

 

Originals by Tyre D. Nichols

 

Born and raised in Sacramento, California, Tyre Nichols photographed landscapes, sunsets, monuments, and the architecture of his adopted town of Memphis, Tennessee. The works serve as the unobtrusive documents of a young man whose gaze is focused on the moments of beauty and transience that shape the rituals of daily life.

 

Now celebrated as part of Desert X, Originals by Tyre Nichols, who was killed due to police brutality, this work represents not only a vision that has been brutally denied the opportunity to flourish, but the potential of all those people whose lives have been lost to the state-sanctioned violence of institutional racism. On billboards along the GeneAutry Trail, Nichols’ work also reminds us that so many of these needless deaths occur on the side of the road. Here, the quiet beauty of these floating images stands in stark contrast to the terror Nichols and so many others experience on the shoulder. But as with the vision, the message is also one of hope: hope that by limiting pretext checks, California can lead the way in police reform; hope that together we can create a just society where the fragile and beautiful talents of people like Tyre Nichols can thrive and grow.

childhood dreams, aliens & cowboys collide in desert X sculptural exhibit at coachella valley
Desert X 2023 installation view, Tyre Nichols, Originals, GoFundMe Tyre Nichols Memorial Fund | photo by Lance Gerber, courtesy Desert X

childhood dreams, aliens & cowboys collide in desert X sculptural exhibit at coachella valley
Desert X 2023 installation view, Tyre Nichols, Originals, GoFundMe Tyre Nichols Memorial Fund | photo by Lance Gerber, courtesy Desert X

 

 

Pioneer by Tschabalala Self

 

Pioneer is a monument erected as a tribute to the collective ancestral mothers of what is now America. Standing in the California desert, Pioneer is a figure that simultaneously emerged from the historical event of America’s founding and has an ephemeral quality that is not tied to a specific point in time. The desert often refers to both the beginning and the end. Pioneer similarly represents the lost, displaced, and forgotten indigenous, Native American, and African women whose bodies and labor made American expansion and growth possible while providing a beacon of resilience for their descendants-a visual representation of their birthright and place in the American landscape. The sculpture celebrates the flexibility of the divine feminine spirit and form, as well as fluid identity in contemporary America. She reminds us that even in the desert, we are born of water.

childhood dreams, aliens & cowboys collide in desert X sculptural exhibit at coachella valley
Desert X 2023 installation view, Tschabalala Self, Pioneer | photo by Lance Gerber, courtesy of the artist and Desert X

childhood dreams, aliens & cowboys collide in desert X sculptural exhibit at coachella valley
Desert X 2023 installation view, Tschabalala Self, Pioneer | photo by Lance Gerber, courtesy of the artist and Desert X

 

Chimera by Héctor Zamora

 

Héctor Zamora’s Chimera is a performative action in collaboration with street vendors, who are ubiquitous in the Coachella Valley but often invisible in the landscape. The artist’s work offers people the opportunity to use materials differently and break rules to open up new possibilities for expression and individuality. In this case, he transforms street vendors into walking sculptures made of balloons that dissolve as visitors buy the balloons and take them home, interacting with the vendors in a space of dignity.

childhood dreams, aliens & cowboys collide in desert X sculptural exhibit at coachella valley
Desert X 2023 performance view, Héctor Zamora, Chimera | photo by Lance Gerber, courtesy of the artist and Desert X

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Desert X 2023 performance view, Héctor Zamora, Chimera | photo by Lance Gerber, courtesy of the artist and Desert X

 

 

Khudi Bari by Marina Tabassum

 

On the occasion of the Desert X 2023 exhibition, Dhaka-based architect Marina Tabassum has created a film titled Khudi Bari (Bengali for ‘tiny house’), which focuses on an example of a modular mobile home that is cost-effective, durable, and relatively quick and easy to assemble and disassemble with minimal labor. The house takes advantage of a rigid frame structure and can help save goods and lives during flash floods on tiny ‘desert islands’ of sand called ‘chars’ that threaten the Bengal Delta. In the floodplains of Bangladesh, the land is fluid, and these islands often break off and erode into the water, forcing people to move their homes. Khudi Bari reminds us to draw on locally rooted knowledge to find innovative solutions to an uncertain future. The film was commissioned by Desert X, which invited Tabassum to explore dry and wet cultures and the role of design in enabling life in some of the world’s most extreme climates.

childhood dreams, aliens & cowboys collide in desert X sculptural exhibit at coachella valley
Desert X 2023 film still from Marina Tabassum, Khudi Bari, courtesy of the artist and Desert X

childhood dreams, aliens & cowboys collide in desert X sculptural exhibit at coachella valley
Desert X 2023 film still from Marina Tabassum, Khudi Bari, courtesy of the artist and Desert X

 

 

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