Service Review: Desert X

An outdoor museum

Picture this: you’re standing in-front of beautiful pieces of art displayed along the desert landscape. There’s wide open space, fresh air and mountains as far as the eye can see. Doesn’t this sound like a relaxing way to spend your day? Lucky for all of us, an experience like this exists with Desert X. This event, which happens every two years, takes place along the Coachella Valley and beyond. It was started back in 2017 with the mission of introducing international artists and their site specific work to spark a dialogue. Past installations have included themes of current events, cultural impacts, indigenous history, the environment surrounding the exhibiting land and more. The group who created Desert X are known as, “The Desert Biennial” and they are a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization founded in California. They took the typical museum experience and evolved it to not only compliment the beauty of the outdoors but to tell an impactful story as well.

Download the app

Desert X is free and accessible to the public Monday through Sunday. There is an app available for iOS and Android called, “Desert X” that will give you the coordinates and addresses of each installation on display. Simply download the app, click the pink x’s on the map and follow the directions provided. You’ll know you have reached the proper destination by signs marked with an X. With each art location, you are also given background information on the highlighted artist and the significance of the displayed art. The Desert X app is the best way to navigate this event and also a good source to receive updates on any of the locations.

"They took the typical museum experience and evolved it to not only compliment the beauty of the outdoors but to tell an impactful story as well."

Reserve your spot

While every installation is open to the general public, there are locations that will require a reservation. The two exhibitions that require you to schedule your visit are, “ParaPivot” (sempiternal clouds) by Alicja Kwade and, “The Passenger” by Eduardo Sarabia. If you are planning to visit any time during Thursday through Sunday, be sure to secure your spot here. This will guarantee your entrance to these two popular sites. If you were unable to snag a spot ahead of time, you might have the option of waiting in a physical cue on-site. This will all depend on the number of people in attendance for the day.

All of the other installations are open and free to explore without a reservation. Please be aware that some walking will be involved for a few of these locations. The site where ParaPivot is located is a 15 minute walk up a steep hill. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring water to hydrate. 

A moment of peace

The majority of the installations are set in picturesque places either directly using the backdrop of the Coachella Valley or within serene properties such as the Sunnylands Center and Gardens. This 15 acre desert art garden does not disappoint in the peaceful department and it adds to the beauty of the installation by artist Ghada Amer titled, “Women’s Qualities”. Ghada asked men and women to use words to describe the qualities that women possess or exhibit. She then created giant planters filled with flowers and shaped them into words. STRONG, LOVING, CARING and RESILIENT are a few of the qualities you will see displayed along the circular Great Lawn at Sunnylands. 

Out of all of the locations at Desert X, this one was my favorite. There are so many pockets of serenity in every part of the garden. You can spend a whole day here and leave feeling calm and empowered by the art.

Don’t miss out

Desert X is on display until May 16, 2021. If you are interested in attending, be sure to download the Desert X app and reserve your spot for the two more popular installations. All sites are practicing Covid protocols so remember to wear your mask and social distance when you can.

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