Desert X 2023 features a sculpture made from stacked wagons

Large-scale works by 12 international designers were installed in the desert landscape of California’s Coachella Valley for the fourth edition of the Desert X exhibition.

Each of the installations was based on the theme of “change” in the wake of the climate crisis and globalization and the possible responses of design.

The works, which take on a variety of forms and themes, range from a vast collection of wagons by American artist Matt Johnson to an abstract sculpture made from yellow chain link fence by UK-based artist Rana Begum.

Matt Johnson has created an installation with wagons

Intended to be “site specific,” Desert X, curated by Neville Wakefield and Diana Campbell, has also created exhibitions of installations in the desert of Saudi Arabia.

“Desert X 2023 can be viewed as a collection of artistic interventions that visualize how our energy has a transmission far beyond what we see right in front of us in our own locales,” said Campbell.

“From deserts to flood plains, finding, building and developing tools and tactics to protect our minds and bodies from the harshness of the outside world is essential to survival.”

Installing a chain link fence
Rana Begum used a yellow chain link fence for #1224

In terms of responding to globalization and climate catastrophe, Johnson’s work entitled Sleeping Figure seems particularly prescient given the recent train derailments in the United States.

The work is a “Cubist rendition of a classic odalisque” that “addresses the crumples and fractures of a distressed supply chain economy.”

Black semicircular desert installation
Torkwase Dyson’s installation referred to the omnipresence of water in the body

Also Begum’s Installation No. 1224 Chainlink relies on industrial materials.

It refers to the ‘ubiquity’ of the fence in the valley to express its dual meaning of ‘protection’ and ‘violence’ and disseminates it to offer ‘ways of extended escape rather than confining confinement’.

Basket weaving in the desert installation
Gerald Clarke referred to local indigenous basket weaving patterns

New York-based Torkwase Dyson’s installation is a dark, monumental sculpture called Liquid A Place that “invites viewers to contemplate its physical connection to the rivers and oceans that surround us.

The black semicircular shape has a portal in the center and a stairway leading up the perimeter to create a viewing platform in the desert.

Mexican artist Mario García Torres designed a series of mechanically reflective surfaces called Searching for Sky, replacing the bull component of mechanical bulls.

The metallic pieces intended to replicate a “flock” have the appearance of solar panels and illustrate a change in the economic spatial composition of the landscape.

solar panel mechanical bull installation
Mario García Torres’ Searching for Sky replaced the mechanical bull’s bull with flat metal plates

Artist Gerald Clarke, who works on the nearby Cahuilla Indian Reservation, also recorded a direct dialogue with the desert for Immersion, a massive glyph that references the “language of the traditional Cahuilla basket” to immerse visitors in the indigenous history of the to dive into the valley.

The changing nature of commercial space in the landscape is also referenced in photos taken by victim of police violence, Tyr Nichols, before his death, cast on billboards intended to comment on “state-sanctioned violence” in a work called Originals institutional racism”.

Installations drawing on local communities include Chimera by Mexican artist Héctor Zamora. It was a series of metal balloons cast in the shapes of words held by natives that “pay tribute to the informal economies on which Mexican society is largely based” and specifically to the migrant communities in the United States based.

Paloma Contreras Lomas, also from Mexico, created a sculpture containing males arranged around a retro car to “caricature” both the western and sci-fi genres.

Desert X Tire Nichols billboards
The festival placed the images of Tire Nichols on billboards around the valley

Lauren Bon, Hylozoic Desires, Tschabalala Self, Soin Tappeser and Marina Tabassum also contributed to the exhibition.

Photograph by Lance Gerber.

Desert X 2023 will be open to the public in California from March 4th to May 7th, 2023. Visit Dezeen’s events guide for more international events, exhibitions and fairs in architecture and design.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *