The 2021 Desert X art exhibition will go forward next year as planned in the Coachella Valley, organizers announced Wednesday.
The contemporary art biennial is slated to return from Feb. 6 to April 11, with art installations placed at outside sites across 40 miles of desert. Organizers say it will be among the first events to return locally since the coronavirus pandemic put the brakes on many global arts and cultural institutions.
“Desert X 2021 is uniquely positioned to provide a model to experience art safely,” Desert X Executive Director Jenny Gil said in a statement. “The journey through the California desert is an integral part of the exhibition. Open-air sites will allow for an adaptable, safe and socially-distanced experience.”
Organizers plan to release guidelines on coronavirus-related safety precautions closer to the start of the exhibition.
In addition, a beefed-up digital presence is planned for remote viewing opportunities.
Building off the success of the inaugural exhibition in 2017, Desert X returned in 2019 with displays across the valley. The 2021 installation will be the organization’s third.
The aim of Desert X is to utilize the desert landscape itself as part of the artists’ works and to engage audiences interested in art and the environment, according to organizers.
On its website, Desert X pays homage to the local Cahuilla people, who have called the Coachella Valley home for some 5,000 years, according to the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.
“We acknowledge the Cahuilla people, who are the traditional custodians of the land where Desert X takes place,” the Desert X website says. “We respect the Cahuilla culture and identity which has been found up for generations with the land upon which we live, learn and create.”
Artistic Director Neville Wakefield will return to helm the exhibit, along with a new co-curator, Cesar Garcia-Alvarez, who is the executive and artistic director of The Mistake Room, a nonprofit art space in Los Angeles. Garcia has curated a wide range of notable exhibitions and projects in the United States and abroad and served as the United States commissioner of the 13th International Cairo Biennial in Egypt from 2012-2013.
“I am thrilled to be joining Neville and the team at Desert X as co-curator of the 2021 edition,” Garcia-Alvarez said in a statement. “The Coachella Valley is a vibrant and complex locale of layered histories forged by a multitude of communities.”
Garcia-Alvarez pledged to work closely with local artists and residents in his work at Desert X.
For more information, visit www.desertx.org/.