Written by: VISUALHOUSE
Photography: Desert X
Desert X's mission is to create and present international contemporary art exhibitions that engage with desert environments through site-specific installations by acclaimed artists from around the world.
From its beginning, the organization has called on all its audiences to be brave, engage their sense of adventure, and open their hearts as they seek the various art installations, paying attention not only to their physicality but also to the stories they tell: emotionally, historically or socially.
Curated by Desert X Artistic Director Neville Wakefield and Co-curator César García-Alvarez, the Desert X 2021 exhibition will explore the desert as both a place and idea, acknowledging the realities of people who reside here and the political, social and cultural contexts that shape their stories.
For Nicholas Galanin, memory and land are inevitably entwined. The 45-foot letters of Never Forget reference the Hollywood sign, which initially spelled out HOLLYWOODLAND and was erected to promote a whites-only development. Never Forget asks settler landowners to participate in the work by transferring land titles and management to local Indigenous communities. The work is a call to action and a reminder that land acknowledgments become only performative when they do not explicitly support the land back movement. Not only does the work transmit a shockwave of historical correction, but also promises to do so globally through social media.
Over a career spanning more than 50 years, Judy Chicago has created art in a variety of media including fireworks, plastics, china-paint and needlework while engaging the political issues of the day. Her early Atmosphere works consisted of colored smoke that momentarily transformed the landscapes they inhabited. For Desert X, she presents a new smoke piece, using completely non-toxic materials, alongside images of previous works. Living Smoke celebrates the desert landscape and the indelible work of an artist for whom the personal, political and environmental have always intertwined.
Desert X 2021 takes place in Coachella Valley, CA and its programming continues until 16 May.
Learn more by visiting their website, https://desertx.org/.