There’s mystery to the desert. It’s so alien, so empty, so unruffled—and that’s exactly what makes it so keen for an art festival. With endless space and a strange sense of vast void, how could it not play as the perfect blank canvas for experimental minds? Such was the thought process behind Desert X.
The inland desert oases of Southern California make for the perfect showcase venue of contemporary artists. Palm Springs puts out the welcome mat and provides the charm, while the surrounding Coachella Valley operates as host for Desert X’s curated exhibition of site-specific work. The ongoing festival is scattered throughout town and valley, so it has all the makings of an assumedly more cultured scavenger hunt. While Desert X first opened its arms in February, it’s still going strong. In fact, the art festival doesn’t close up shop until the end of April. The installations are free to behold and there's no ticket necessary. However, your best stop to kicking off the artsy adventure is the Ace Hotel & Swim Club in Palm Springs. There, you can score a catalog and a map, along with the festival's merchandise and the artists' books.
Photography: Desert X
Big Works From Notable Names
Desert X is by no means a small showing. It’s an epic setup of installations from a stunning line-up of established and emerging artists. From dawn until sunset, guests can explore and take in the imaginative works of Doug Aitken, Lita Albuquerque, Will Boone, Jennifer Bolande, Claudia Comte, Armando Lerma, Jeffrey Gibson, Norma, Jeane, Sherin Guirguis, Gabriel Kuri, Glenn Kaino, Richard Prince, Juliao Sarmento, Tavares Strachan, and Phillip K. Smith III. Head’s up, the installations themselves may have unique hours of viewing, as their creators want the setting just right for them to be surveyed and enjoyed.
A Range of Installations Across the Valley
Not only are these insightful and/or entertaining projects found across a good stretch of miles, their meanings cover a lot of ground as well. From climate change to tribal culture to leisure activities, the artworks bounce from serious to playful, sometimes blending the approaches. If you aim to understand their depth in full, there are docent-led bus tours on the weekend.
Photography: Desert X