Explore Desert X 2021

3 minutes read

Desert X is a biennial outdoor art exhibition spanned over 40 miles at Coachella Valley. This third edition showcases 13 installations to explore climate change, culture, immigration, and history.

Here is a look at ” Desert X” (Edition 2021).

Zahrah Alghamdi – What Lies Behind the Walls

What Lies Behind the Walls is a wall composed of layers of different materials. Alike geological strata, it characterizes an accumulation of history and cultures.

About the artist: Zahrah Alghamdi is a Saudi Arabian artist. She uses traditional architecture to see the sights of memory and history.

Address: Pierson Boulevard between Foxdale Drive and Miracle Hill Road, Desert Hot Springs

Ghada Amer – Women’s Qualities

Women’s Qualities are seven floral inscriptions arranged in a circle: loving, beautiful, resilient, nurturing, strong, caring, and determined. The artwork represents qualities men and women from the Coachella Valley identified themselves or have been ascribed. 

About the artist: Egyptian-French Ghada Amer recognized that the history of art has been written and dominated by men. Women’s Qualities is a long-term project exploring women’s representation in different histories and cultures. As an example, in 2000, she installed eight flowerbeds at the Metropolitan Museum of Pusan (South Korea). The floral installation depicted adjectives describing women qualities according to the local population: sweet, docile, virgin, and long-lashed.

Address: Sunnylands Center & Gardens 37977 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage

Serge Attukwei Clottey – The Wishing Well

The Wishing Well is two yellow nine-foot cubes. Made from plastic Kufuor gallons (a type of jerrycan in Ghana), it represents water scarcity and insecurity worldwide. Wishing Well is a reference to the standing wells people use to access water.

About the artist: The Ghanaian artist uses this material since 2015 as part of his Afrogallonism project. 

Address: James O. Jessie Desert Highland Unity Center, 480 W Tramview Rd, Palm Springs, CA 92262

Eduardo Sarabia – The Passenger

The Passenger is a maze symbolizing the journey for desert travelers. It is also an introspect to our own journey with perspectives, possibilities, and achievement. The arrow-shaped installation is made from 350 hand-made petates mats (material from palms fibers).

About the artist: Eduardo Sarabia’s artwork explores the cultural and economic relationship between Mexico and the United States. 

Address: Frank Sinatra Drive and Portola Avenue, Palm Desert

Note: Reservations (free) are recommended for this installation if you visit from Thursday to Sunday.

Nicholas Galanin – Never Forget

Never Forget is an advertising billboard inspired by the Hollywood Sign typo. The 45-foot letterforms INDIAN LAND is a connection to the local Indigenous communities. This artwork evokes white colonization and racism (Nota Bene: the Hollywood Sign was a signposting for a Caucasian suburb). Besides, it addresses land repatriation from landowners to Native Americans.

About the artist: Alaskan Nicholas Galanin explores the connection between Native and non-Native Americans.

Address: North of the Palm Springs Visitors Center at Tramway Road 2901 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

Kim Stringfellow – Jackrabbit Homestead

Jackrabbit Homestead is a 112-square-foot cabin, a single room including furniture: a bed, paintings, a kitchenette, and a table with a typewriter. You can’t enter, but there are four windows to peak a look inside. The artist recreated Catherine Ven’s California homesteading to represent the 1938 Small Tract Act (the possibility to acquire up to 5 acres of land in the desert by adding a small construction).

Address: 72559 Highway 111, Palm Desert

Xaviera Simmons – Because You Know Ultimately, We Will Band A Militia

Because You Know Ultimately, We Will Band A Militia is a series of billboards along the road. Using advertising aesthetic, the artist brings attention to social injustice and stereotypes.

Address: Gene Autry Trail Between Via Escuela and Interstate 10, Palm Springs

Vivian Suter – Tamanrasset

Tamanrasset is a series of abstract paintings. You can’t enter the downtown Palm Springs building; the hung artworks are visible through the windows. The palette of colors reflects Coachella Valley landscapes.  

About the artist: Based in Guatemala, Vivian Suter was not able to visit Coachella Valley due to the COVID-19 travel restriction. She was inspired by pictures to realize this artwork.

Address: 333 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

The North Face x Gucci Pit

The giant dome is a collaboration between The North Face and Gucci for their spirit of exploration. This structure, lighted at night, is like a bivouac. Explorers, you can enjoy many hiking trails next to this installation.

Address: 327 W. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs, CA

Alicja Kwade – ParaPivot (sempiternal clouds)

ParaPivot (sempiternal clouds) is a sculpture with rocks levitation. This artwork is full of contrast: massive and fragile, solid and unstable, full and empty. Unfortunately, I was not able to visit it.

Photo Credit: DesertX.org

Address: 71690 Channel Run Road Sky Valley, CA 92242

Note: Reservations (free) are recommended for this installation if you visit from Thursday to Sunday.

Article based on my visit in 2021

Which art piece did you prefer? Share in the comments!

*COVD-19 update as of April 2021*

  1. Please wear a mask and respect physical distancing by 6 feet.
  2. Please review safety protocols before visiting.


  • Location: Various locations across the Coachella Valley, California. Download Desert X maps or visit the website below for detailed locations.
  • On view from March 12th, 2021 to May 16th, 2021
  • Hours: From sunrise to sunset except Women’s qualities (Sunnylands is open from Wednesday-Sunday, from 8:30-4:00 pm)
  • Admission: Free. Timed tickets needed for two installations while visiting from Thursday-Sunday.
  • Duration: a day to see all the artworks
  • Parking: free on-site lots
  • More information available at https://desertx.org

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