Both Coachella in southern California and Burning Man in Nevada have helped to foster the rise of “festival art” in the desert; think large-scale art installations that can be used as landmarks to help you find your friends in a jam-packed, drug-fuelled concert. But the curator Neville Wakefield, the organiser of Desert X (Desert Exhibition of Art), and the board behind the new biennial, which includes the artist Ed Ruscha and Coachella’s art director, Paul Clemente, see the desert as a not-so-blank canvas for a wider range of projects by leading artists.
Due to launch on 25 February (until 30 April), expect land art as well as more conceptual gestures across several desert towns and cities, including Palm Springs. Lita Albuquerque is creating a performance circle resembling a black sand dune, complete with film and score, at Sunnylands, the Annenberg estate in Rancho Mirage.
Jeffrey Gibson is turning a 116-foot-high blade from a wind turbine into a sculpture for the garden of the Palm Springs Art Museum. Gabriel Kuri is creating an “immersive drawing” in the sand that takes a pie-chart form, referencing the funding structure for Desert X, and Jennifer Bolande is creating a double-take sort of billboard project that involves showing drivers images taken from the very mountains they are approaching. Other participating artists include Doug Aitken, Matthew Barney, Glenn Kaino, Cinthia Marcelle, Richard Prince, Rob Pruitt, and Hank Willis Thomas.