Desert X 2021 – Never Forget

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Desert X was conceived with a mission to create and present international contemporary art exhibitions that engage with desert environments through site-specific installations by acclaimed artists from around the world. It is held biennially in the Coachella Valley in Southern California. This year, with a global pandemic and racial and political protests as backdrops, the 2021 edition offers an exhibition of 12 artists exploring the desert as both a place and idea, recognizing the realities of people who reside there and the political, social, and cultural contexts that shape their stories. I was able to visit these recently and wanted to share some images and details here. Desert X runs through May 16 and more information can be found on their website:

For Nicholas Galanin, a Tlingit and Unangax artist and musician, memory and land are inexorably entwined. The 45-foot letters of “Never Forget” references the Hollywood sign, which initially spelled out HOLLYWOODLAND and was erected to promote a whites-only development. Its timing coincided with a development in Palm Springs that also connected to the film industry: Studio contracts limited actors’ travel, contributing to the city’s rise as playground and refuge of the stars. Meanwhile, the white settler mythology of America as the land of the free and home of the brave was promoted in the West, and the landscape was cinematized through the same lens.


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