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For its fourth edition, the international art exhibition continues its commitment to contemporary creation through the works of twelve artists in the Coachella Valley. Focus on four.

 Photo by Lance Gerber © Courtesy Torkwase Dyson and Desert X.

Desert X continues to examine the changes that are shaping a world increasingly dominated by the climate crisis, globalism, and political and economic migration. Twelve artists from Europe, North America, and South Asia present poetic and immersive works in all fields this year, making visible the forces we exert on the planet.

Crossing and interconnection

Rana Begum’s sculpture “No. 1225 Chainlink” responds to the ubiquity of chain-link fences, common in the Coachella Valley; a material intended to protect but also to separate. The Anglo-Bangladeshi artist plays with the idea of separation by manipulating its form and color. Its airy, labyrinthine structure allows light and air, sand and water to filter through, offering possible escape routes rather than reductive confinement. As she explains, “Constantly changing with the movement of the sun and the visitors inside, the work emphasizes that nothing in life is static; everything, from the outside world to our inner emotions, is in a state of continuous flux.”

 Photo by Lance Gerber © Courtesy Rana Begun and Desert X.
 Photo by Lance Gerber © Courtesy Rana Begun and Desert X.

Elsewhere, American architect Torkwase Dyson offers an installation that is part of an ongoing series. “Liquid A Place mediates between the memory of water in the body and water in the desert. “60% of our bodies and 70% of the planet are made up of water, circulating in our bodies and on Earth as it changes from a solid to a liquid to a gas,” she explains.

 Photo by Lance Gerber © Courtesy Rana Begun and Desert X.

She thus invites the audience to consider their bodily interconnection with the rivers and oceans that surround us. 

Knowledge games and supply disruptions

Gerald Clarke draws on his heritage and expresses traditional ideas in contemporary forms. The artist, university professor, cowboy, and Cahuilla tribal leader creates “Immersion,” a board game in the desert.

 Photo by Lance Gerber © Courtesy Gerald Clarke and Desert X.

He uses the influence that games can have on people to gain knowledge. He mixes the language of Cahuilla basketry with American board games, inviting visitors to move around on them according to the instructions of a card game.

Through its labyrinthine structure, it immerses them in the natural and cultural history of the American Indians.

 Photo by Lance Gerber © Courtesy Gerald Clarke and Desert X.

As for “Sleeping Figure,” Matt Johnson bears witness to the deformations and breaks in supply chains. Its irony, deliberate, is that it was conceived at a time when “a Japanese container behemoth, operated by Taiwanese, managed by Germans, flying a Panamanian flag and piloted by Indians, found itself under Egyptian jurisdiction for six days, while blocking the Suez Canal.”

 Photo by Lance Gerber © Courtesy Matt Johnson and Desert X.
 Photo by Lance Gerber © Courtesy Matt Johnson and Desert X.

Located along the main artery linking the port of Los Angeles to the interior of the United States, the installation thus overlooks the landscape, reminding us that “the invisible hand of globalism, now connected to its container body, has landed in the Coachella Valley.”

Desert X

PO Box 4050 Palm Springs

CA 92263 United States

Until 7 May 2023

 Nathalie Dassa