Tschabalala Self's public sculpture 'Seated' reclaims and owns a public space
by Dilpreet BhullarDec 13, 2022
•make your fridays matter with a well-read weekend
by Urvi KothariPublished on : Apr 27, 2023
The dry and the dead! A connotation we often iterate to describe a desert. Contrary to its archetype it can be defined not as a landscape with 'absence of water' but rather one existing in the 'memory of water.' The fourth edition of the Desert X biennale traces the footprints of the so-called mundane into an introspective ecosystem. A chilly March evening saw imagination coming to life as the Coachella Valley converted into a road map instrument of self-awareness under the artistic direction of Neville Wakefield and Diana Campbell Betancourt.
The desert landscape is activated by 12 enormous installations—in scale and scope—interpreted by artists from Europe, North America, and South Asia. There is drama, poetry, performance and much more; but above all there is a strong address to real problems. Desert X truly probes beyond aesthetics as it counters socio-environmental themes such as globalism, climate change, economic migrations and much more.
A native to the Californian land, Gerald Clarke redefines the innate functionality of a desert landscape. One often loses a sense of direction if abandoned in an arid rift valley. However, this curatorial road map includes Clarke’s maze-like structure with four defined pathways—in a sense of a life-sized instruction specific board game. Titled Immersion, the art installation induces a sense of 'direction,' leaving the viewers with a new perspective on the landscape.
As one comes into the Palm Springs, one often sees barbed chain fencing indicative of certain association of control and violence. Artist Rana Begum diffuses the material’s role as a divider, constructing an installation that sort of replicates the mountains it is sitting amidst. The installation artist’s take on this very fence has a sense of freedom—seemingly in a constant state of flux. There is a mode of escapism from a distance but eventually feels like a pavilion of free movement as one draws closer. On a similar note, American artist Matt Johnson recreates a sleeping man using shipping containers. From an aerial view what may feel like tiny Lego blocks assembled together, at a closer glance converts into a dramatic sleeping figure lulled by the music of nature under the South Californian sunlight nestled amidst dramatic mountains.
"Prophets heal the desert with it and those who look back to receive the gaze of the other are turned into pillars of it. It is disobedient"—mentions a note from artists Himali Singh Soin and David Soin Tappeser. Titled as Namak Nazar, the aural sculpture tells the story of an etheric element: a particle of salt that spells the doom of climate change and offers redemption by looking inward. Namak Nazar sends signals that transmit between deserts, pointing at the dying fish at the Salton Sea, and becomes a carrier of prayer recorded in the Rann of Kutch, the desert on the border of India and Pakistan.
My review truly comes full circle with Torkwase Dyson's monumental sculpture as she navigates the valley through the memory of water. She connects the memory of the water body and the memory of water in the desert. The architectural intervention leaves back some introspective notes: Can this liquid memory help us reconsider scale and distance as critical forms in holding onto liberatory life practices?
While this ambitious curation truly revives and activates the Coachella Valley, Desert X has been extremely mindful of its footprints. At the culmination of the biennial exhibition, all materials will be recycled, donated or returned to the artist. DesertX truly offers the viewers a creative excuse to explore the Palm Springs with an introspective eye while celebrating the inherent beauty of the landscape in the 'memory of the water.' The experiential journey urges the beholder to uncover the hidden, trace through the footprints left behind while looking forward to a sustainable future. So put on your artsy sneakers and do stop by the Desert X Hub to grab your art exhibition guide!
Desert X 2023 is open in the Coachella Valley until May 7, 2023.
by Rosalyn D`Mello Jun 02, 2023
Viewing the exhibition Niki De Saint Phalle in the company of a sea of random visitors contributed to the visceral gush the fleshy works innately evoke.
by Dilpreet Bhullar Jun 01, 2023
The documentary photographer Ciril Jazbec has embraced the value of nature to talk about the rising adversity around climate change in his photographic art practice.
by Dilpreet Bhullar May 29, 2023
Norwegian contemporary artist Hanne Friis responds to changing the way of life with the pandemic, specifically around the use of material in our urban lives.
by Manu Sharma May 26, 2023
Russian artist Maxim Zhestkov discusses his virtual reality project that blurs various creative disciplines.
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