Photographer and Professor Jeremiah Gilbert is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this documentary photography. From the project ‘Art in the Desert (X)’. To see Jeremiah ’s body of work, click on any image.
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. The first Desert X took place in 2017 and included 16 artists, while the 2019 edition featured 18 artists. 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.
“ParaPivot (sempiternal clouds)” consists of interlocking frames supporting large blocks of white marble that appear as ice calved from a distant glacier. The array of steel and stone draws viewers into the frame of this massive, yet fragile, universe where simple forms yield complex meanings. Artist Alicja Kwade, who lives and works in Berlin, likes to investigate and question the structures of reality and society and reflects on the perception of time in our everyday life. She grounds her practice around concepts of space, time, science, and philosophy.
“The Wishing Well” is a sculptural installation of large-scale cubes draped with sheets of woven pieces of yellow plastic Kufuor gallons used to transport water in Ghana. Artist Serge Attukwei Clottey, born in Accra, Ghana, likes to investigate the sociopolitical, economic, environmental, and cultural legacies of the colonial past of Africa. Using the yellow plastic jerrycans, which were introduced by Europeans to the people of Ghana to transport cooking oil, he creates sculptures, installations, and performances that speak to histories of colonial pillaging and its effects on trade and migration.
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.
Saudi Arabia born artist Zahrah Alghamdi likes to explore memory and history through traditional architecture in both medium and assemblage. For Desert X, she created a sculpture entitled “What Lies Behind the Walls” that echoes and synthesizes the traditionally built forms from her country with the architectural organization found in the Coachella Valley. The result takes the form of a monolithic wall comprised of stacked forms infused with cements, soils, and dyes specific to each region. It expresses a highly individualized language corresponding to feelings, emotions, and memories associated with place and time.
Mexico-based Eduardo Sarabia’s “The Passenger” is an arrow tip-shaped maze inspired by the trope of the journey that for generations has been closely bound to stories of the desert. From biblical narratives of exodus to the treks of immigrants searching for better tomorrows, the necessity to move from one place to another has formed a shared experience across cultures. Made from walls of petates, traditional rugs woven from palm fibers, “The Passenger” addresses the challenges and aspirations that encourage journeys, while paying tribute to the people who have embarked upon them.
Other installations include Xaviera Simmons’ “Because You Know Ultimately We Will Band A Militia,” a series of billboards along Gene Autry Trail crafting language and image to confront white stereotypes and complicity within narratives that shape societal structures, along with Kim Stringfellow’s “Jackrabbit Homestead,” chronicling one of the less remembered histories of desert land that began in 1938 with the Southern California Small Tract Act.
Desert X’s 2021 edition will be on display through May 16.
All images and text © Jeremiah Gilbert
By Jeremiah Gilbert
Jeremiah’s Previous Contributions To Edge Of Humanity Magazine
Edge of Humanity Magazine is an independent nondiscriminatory platform that has no religious, political, financial, or social affiliations.
We are committed to publishing the human condition, the raw diverse global entanglement, with total impartiality.
Documentary Photography * Fine Art Photography * Street Photography * Portrait Photography * Landscape Photography * Night Photography * Conceptual Photography * Travel Photography * Candid Photography Underwater Photography * Architectural Photography Urban Photography * Art * Digital Art
Support This Small Independent Magazine
Follow Edge of Humanity Magazine
Not on WordPress?
Don’t Forget to add
to your reader or bookmarks