Desert X Marks The Spot


In California, alongside the beginning of Daylight Savings time, the arrival of spring is heralded by the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano. And, for the past few years, it’s also been marked by the arrival of Desert X to the Coachella Valley which opens today and runs through May 16th.

This year’s Desert X, its third itineration, presented by RICHARD MILLE, is especially welcome. Lockdown has also meant that the experience of art has been limited; museums were closed and galleries offered only appointment-only hours. While online viewing opens up the art world to a larger audience, there is something that’s lost when viewed through a screen; the impact of in-person confrontation dissolves. Among the first in-person art experiences in the region, this itineration of Desert X promises to quench both our thirst for adventure and our parched soul.

So it’s fitting that this year’s overarching theme considers the desert as both a place and an idea, exploring the history, realities and possibilities inspired by the Coachella Valley and its many communities. “As much as the desert is a state of place, it is also a state of mind. Its borders are not singular but multiple, and it is defined as much by social geography as physical boundary,” explains Artistic Director Neville Wakefield. “Desert X 2021 seeks to explore this idea of the desert as a place where the marginalized and migratory – whose voices and histories may have struggled to manifest within the dominant discourses of growth and development – can also be heard.”

From Zarah Alghamdi’s a monumental sculptural edifice, What Lies Behind The Walls, to Living Smoke; A Tribute to the Living Desert,​ in partnership with the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation, a specially-commissioned Desert X Smoke Sculpture by ​Judy Chicago,​ scheduled for April 9, to Serge Attukwei Clottey The Wishing Well to Alicja Kwade​’s sculptural work ​ParaPivot (sempiternal clouds)​ which seemingly icy, stone fragments, in contrast to the hot desert, conjure up questions of global warming and of space, these twelve exhibitions promise a day (or more!) of wandering and pondering, thinking and connecting, opening up our minds and quenching our thirst.

The​ Desert X 2021 map ​of artist installations can be found online at ​​ from March 12 and via the ​Desert X 2021 app​.