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Desert X 2023

Desert X 2023 is an Artistic Vessel for Our Collective Survival

On March 4, the fourth edition of the site-specific art exhibition Desert X 2023 opened in Palm Springs, within the heart of the Coachella Valley. Co-curated by Diana Campbell and returning Artistic Director Neville Wakefield, the prestigious event, which has previously drawn over 1.25 million visitors, includes work by 12 international artists in a sweeping array of architecture, film, music, painting, performance, and environmental activism. Inspired by timely themes such as societal metamorphosis, our global climate crisis, and subsequent economic migration, participating artists have created astounding works of self-awareness, revealing both poetic and inconvenient truths.  

Desert X 2023 Desert X 2023 installation view, Rana Begum, “No.1225 Chainlink,” photo by Lance Gerber, courtesy the artist and Desert X.

Artists Rana Begum, Lauren Bon, Gerald Clarke, Paloma Contreras Lomas, Torkwase Dyson, Mario García Torres, Hylozoic/Desires (Himali Singh Soin and David Soin Tappeser), Matt Johnson, Tschabalala Self, Marina Tabassum, and Héctor Zamora will be in lively dialogue with one another, and their audience, as they ask pressing questions about our world and ourselves against the ravishing and stark backdrop of the desert landscape. 

Desert X 2023 Desert X 2023 installation view, Matt Johnson, “Sleeping Figure,” photo by Lance Gerber, courtesy the artist and Desert X.

“Desert X 2023 can be seen as a collection of artistic interventions that make visible how our energy has a transference far beyond what we see just in front of us in our own localities,” said Campbell. “From deserts to floodplains, finding, building, and developing tools and tactics to shelter our minds and bodies from the harshness of the world outside are essential to survival. In a time of global crisis, many of the artists have created spaces of freedom and possibility, suggesting new ways to build healing cultures of care that embrace and protect (bio)diversity, opening up opportunities for joy and hope anchored in justice. Immersing ourselves in the stories of place also awakens us to its mythologies, whether they be religious texts and oral traditions across multitudes of belief systems that see us creating vessels to escape the flood as well as being cast into the arid wilderness to test the limits of existential and spiritual survival.

Desert X 2023 Desert X 2023 installation view, Mario García Torres, “Searching for the Sky (While Maintaining Equilibrium),” photo by Lance Gerber, courtesy the artist and Desert X.

Torres’ Searching for the Sky (While Maintaining Equilibrium) will explore the unruly journey of a herd of mechanical bulls, which can never exist in sync, as a metaphor for turbulent Western culture and entertainment. Self’s Pioneer is an artistic monument evoking the creation of America as both the beginning and the end, embodying the abandoned Native and African women who gave their lives for the contemporary landscape. Tabassum will reveal a future home with Khudi Bari, which translates to “Tiny House” in Bengali. The brilliant concept for a modular mobile abode emerges from the devastation of flash floods in the Bengal delta, and throughout the world. Alongside a film commissioned by Desert X, Tabassum envisions art as a gateway to a hopeful future.

Desert X 2023 Desert X 2023 installation view, Torkwase Dyson, “Liquid A Place,” photo by Lance Gerber, courtesy the artist and Desert X.

The free-to-all exhibition will be presented alongside compelling in-person and online programs which foster meaningful conversations i​​n the artistic community and across the globe. Partners such as the Coachella Valley School District, the Palm Springs Art Museum, and Modernism Week debut the first curatorial fellowship as well as artist talks on re-envisioned landscapes, monuments of memory and survival, and environmentally-conscious, design-forward thinking. 

Desert X 2023 Desert X 2023 performance view, Héctor Zamora, “Chimera,” photo by Lance Gerber, courtesy the artist and Desert X.

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