Desert X: the arid exhibition that's bringing land art to Coachella
The likes of Doug Aitken have decamped to the outskirts of Palm Springs to exhibit large-scale works that challenge the history of the western expansion and appear along the route to a certain music festival. By Janelle Zara
Speeding down the Gene Autry Trail, a Palm Springs desert road named after the singing cowboy, there are mountains to the north and south, and billboards on each side. Somewhere between the ads for milkshakes and legal counsel, there are large-scale images of mountains, and from three exacting positions on the road, they suddenly snap into place; for a few brief moments, they perfectly align with the jagged scenery. And just as quickly, they’re behind you. Perhaps you had imagined it, or perhaps you didn’t notice them at all.
This fleeting mirage is LA-based artist Jennifer Bolande’s new work, Visible Distance/Second Sight, a site-specific homage to the landscape. She and 15 other artists have come to Palm Springs and the surrounding area as part of Desert X, a new exhibition of large-scale installations that stretches across 45 miles until 30 April. (Not coincidentally, they’re sited along the path leading from Los Angeles to behemoth music festival Coachella, which also takes place in April).
Image: Mirage by Doug Aitken. Photograph: Desert X installation view of Doug Aitken's Mirage, 2017, photo by Lance Gerber, courtesy the artist and Desert X