Desert X 2023

4 minutes read

Experience the fourth edition of Desert X, the biennial exhibition in Greater Palm Springs. This year, discover 11 meaningful artworks about society, the environment, and climate change.

Sleeping Figure by Matt Johnson

Sleeping figure is an assemblage of containers imitating the resting Buddha. These shipping containers are from the Suez Canal crisis (1956). If you look closer, you will see the name of their country of origin.

Sleeping Figure by Matt Johnson

This installation is located amid the highway and railroad, the liaisons between the Port of Los Angeles and the inland United States. L.A.-based artist Matt Johnson questions trade interconnection, mundialization, and consumerism.

Location: I-10 Exit 110 Haugen-Lehmann Way to Railroad Ave

Amar A Dios En Tierra De Indios, Es Oficio Maternal by Paloma Contreras Lomas

Mexican artist Paloma Contreras Lomas addresses Mexican societal issues, focusing on the expanding power of cartels. For this artwork, she combines multiple “soft” materials: a car, multimedia tablets, crochets, and plush-armed hands to speak about violence.

Amar A Dios En Tierra De Indios, Es Oficio Maternal by Paloma Contreras Lomas

According to the volunteer, the purple flowers on the trunk are a reference to cartel victims. Relatives grieving over missing and/or dead persons place purple flowers along the roads.

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

The Smallest Sea with the Largest Heart by Lauren Bon and Metabolic Studio

Enter in a private backyard to discover a pool fill in with 22 gallons of Salton Sea (What’s the Salton Sea? Check my latest article here). Inside, a scale blue whale heart is fully submerged. At night only (to avoid corrosion), Desert X volunteers levitate the steel sculpture, covered now by salts and minerals.

The Smallest Sea with the Largest Heart by Lauren Bon and Metabolic Studio

Beyond art, this massive organ is pumping and cleaning the water thanks to solar panels. After a few weeks, volunteers have been seeing encouraging results: a decrease in toxicity and clearer water. At the beginning of the exhibit, it was impossible to see the sculpture in the pool!

Why a whale? Once, Coachella Valley was an Ocean, and the blue whales have the largest animal heart.

Why a pool? Today, water shortage is a challenge for the local communities.

Why the Salton Sea? The Salton Sea is an ecological disaster impacting fauna, flora, and humans.

Environmental artist Lauren Bon created Metabolic Studio in 2005 to explore “self-sustaining and self-diversifying systems of exchange that feed emergent properties that regenerate the life web. »


Location: 2249 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

Immersion by Gerald Clarke

Cahuilla artist Gerald Clarke combines Native American culture – Cahuilla basketry tradition – with American culture – a gameboard. To engage with viewers, he plays a trivia game. There are questions related to Native American culture and History. He mentioned that: ” What I really want is for visitors to understand what they don’t know about indigenous people*.”

Immersion by Gerald Clarke

As an example of True or False:

  1. There were over 60 Cahuilla villages within Cahuilla territory?
    1. True, there were over 60 Cahuilla villages in the mountains, deserts, canyons, and uplands surrounding the Coachella Valley.
  2. California has the second-highest population of Native Americans in the U.S.?
    • True. Alaska has the highest Native population.

Ready to play? Check Gerald’s website

‘*Source: Desert X website

Location: 480 W. Tramview Road, Palm Springs

No. 1225 Chainlink by Rana Begum

This maze appears as a mirage in the middle of the desert.

No. 1225 Chainlink by Rana Begum

As you navigate the path, the yellow chain-link fencing is expanding higher.

British-Bangladeshi artist Rana Begum uses negative seen material to question different aspects of fences. Is it protection or division? Ultimately, she demonstrates that everything is moving in life like visitors, and natural elements (air, sand, and sun), within this artwork.

Location: 74184 Portola Road, Palm Desert

Namak Nazar by Hylozoic/Desires

From Hindi Namak = Salt and Nasar = palindromic gaze, this wooden pole stands in the middle of Desert Hot Springs. There are no homes surrounding it, yet seven speakers emit sounds and poetry. The voice claims that a grain of salt is the response to climate change.

Namak Nazar by Hylozoic/Desires

This pillar of salt is a metaphor for conspiracy theory and positive magical power. Artists Himali Singh Soin & David Soin Tappeser were inspired by the Salton Sea and their travels to India. They connected these two landscapes, incorporating South Asia-inspired announce prayer speakers to this Southern California environment.

Location: Worsley Road between Pierson and Mission Lakes Boulevards, Desert Hot Springs

Originals by Tyre Nichols

Billboards as a political statement against police brutality. On January 7th, 2023, 29-year-old Tyre Nichols was pulled from his car for a routine traffic stop. Beaten by Memphis police Officers, he died three days later in the hospital.

Originals by Tyre Nichols

Tyre was an amateur photographer. This installation is an homage to his work and a celebration of emerging talents.

Location: N. Gene Autry Trail, Between Via Escuela and the I-10

Liquid A Place by Torkwase Dyson

Liquid A Place is an iteration of an artwork developed in 2019 by New York-based artist Torkwase Dyson. This geometric wood structure is filled with water. Additionally, there are stairs on both sides of the structure to step up to the top. This installation represents the Human and Earth connection as bodies of water.

Liquid A Place by Torkwase Dyson

Location: Homme Adams Park, 72500 Thrush Road, Palm Desert

Article based on my visit in April 2023


  • Location: Coachella Valley, California
  • On view from March 4th  – May 7th , 2023
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Admission: Free
  • More information at

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