Many 2021 cultural events are still canceled because of the pandemic, including fashion branding magnet the Coachella Music and Arts Festival. But after a short delay, Desert X, the site-specific outdoor art exhibition in the Southern California desert, is going forward from Friday to May 16 with Gucci as a supporter.
The Pit Stop is located in Palm Springs near the entrance to the Cactus to Clouds trail, a 19-mile hike with views of the desert wildflowers. Inside, visitors can discover other trail options in the area for adventuring, as well as information about the self-guided art exhibition spanning 13 sites more than 40 miles across the Coachella Valley.
To coincide with the event, the Gucci x The North Face collection will be available at Gucci’s 4,000-square-foot store in neighboring community Palm Desert, at the Gardens on El Paseo.
The Desert X 2021 exhibition is curated by artistic director Neville Wakefield and co-curator César García-Alvarez, who commissioned new works from 13 artists from around the world dealing with contemporary and local themes. Swiss watchmaker Richard Mille is the presenting sponsor.
“As much as the desert is a state of place, it is also a state of mind. Its borders are not singular but multiple and it is defined as much by social geography as physical boundary,” Wakefield said. “Desert X 2021 seeks to explore the idea of the desert as a place where the marginalized and migratory — whose voices and histories may have struggled to manifest within the dominant discourses of growth and development — can also be heard.”
As part of the exhibition, Judy Chicago’s “Living Smoke; A Tribute to the Living Desert,” scheduled for April 9, will continue her practice of challenging the male-dominated realm of Land Art, transforming and feminizing the landscape for a moment and then leaving no trace.
Kim Stringfellow’s “Jackrabbit” diorama will portray the life of one of the desert’s early homesteaders, bringing to light a lesser-known part of the area’s history that began with the Small Tract Act in 1938.
“Women’s Qualities” by Ghada Amer is the result of a social project polling diverse local communities in the Coachella Valley, whose reflections take the form of “word gardens.”
The first two editions of Desert X in 2017 and 2019 drew about 600,000 visitors with such works as Sterling Ruby’s florescent orange monolithic “Specter” and Pia Camil’s “Lover’s Rainbow” sculptures, which became popular attractions (and Instagram backdrops) in the desert landscape.