Art / Culture

Why Desert X is the hottest land art installation of the year

The free public art festival is back for its second outing...

After the success of DX17, the biannual contemporary art exhibition is back this February and hosts a completely new set of installations by leading artists. The space has expanded it’s footprint all the way to the Salton Sea – there are 18 artworks stretching over 55 miles of the desert; one piece even borders Mexico.

Sterling Ruby’s exhibiting piece juxtaposes a fluorescent orange monolith Specter against the neutral desert colours. Ruby reverses logic by utilizing a color traditionally used for safety warnings yet his object is within a natural landscape – hiding in plain sight – stagnant and set in place.

One of the pieces putting an extremely contemporary twist on land art is Nancy Baker Cahill. Showing at two sites, the LA based artist will show animated drawings in augmented reality that visitors can see through an app. Her piece presented by the Salton Sea; Margin of Error presents the toxic collision between human progress and environmental decline. Her response to climate change is popular within the themes of the presenting artists this year. John Gerrard presents a large scale video installation of a flag made up of black smoke that seems to be blowing in the wind. “Climate change has the potential to really challenge what you could think of as the nation-state — you know, the nation-state is exemplified by flag, the central identity of any country is a flag, and we all agree on the flag for the most part — left, right, whatever you may be,” Gerrard explained to a small crowd the day Desert X opened.

Jenny Holzer’s projections light a mountainside, filling the neutral landscape with contemporary voices which express the horror and anguish of gun violence through survivors and their family members, who offer their accounts of grief.

The pieces stretch further than land; Steve Badgett and Chris Taylor have created a solar powered platform Terminal Lake Exploration Platform to maximize deployability in inhospitable situations and inaccessible bodies of water. In the artists words, “Our interest is to peer into this murky bowl to reveal textures, contents, and circumstances that have been accruing under the protection of water since 1905.”

The exhibition runs from 9 February – 21 April and is held in Greater Palm Springs, from Palm Springs to the Salton Sea and Mexico.

14 February 2019