Desert X 2019: Art biennial announces its next exhibition


Desert X is back — or will be, in 2019.

The inaugural Desert Exhibition of Art opened in February as a free exhibition of mostly large-scale installations across the Coachella Valley. Organizers of the nonprofit group that runs Desert X, including artist Ed Ruscha, collector Beth Rudin DeWoody and former Palm Springs Art Museum Director Steven A. Nash, announced that Desert X will return in 2019, running Feb. 9 through April.

The twist: Founding artistic director Neville Wakefield will be joined by Amanda Hunt, the Museum of Contemporary Art’s director of education and public programs, and Matthew Schum, an independent curator based in Los Angeles.

Jenny Gil, most recently director of exhibitions at the Buenos Aires- and Miami-based nonprofit Faena Art, will serve as executive director, replacing Elizabeta Betinski.

Doug Aitken’s “Mirage,” from the inaugural Desert X, is a house made of mirrors reflecting its surroundings.
(Konrad Fiedler)

The first Desert X consisted of 16 works — sculptural, electronic, architectural or performance — by artists including Doug Aitken, Lita Albuquerque and Phillip K. Smith III. Installations were set across 45 miles of desert in and around Palm Springs.

The vision for the second incarnation of Desert X remains the same: International artists will responded to the locale, riffing on its history, mythology, topography and socioeconomics.

Desert X President Susan Davis said the board was thrilled to have Wakefield back.

“His inspired vision and sincere empathy for the desert and the community are qualities we wanted to reengage for 2019,” Davis said in the announcement. Gil, she added, “brings enormous expertise and international knowledge,” and with Hunt and Schum the team will try to build on the event’s success this year. Desert X drew more than 200,000 visitors over nine weeks, organizers said.

“Desert X’s attendance in its first year exceeded all our expectations, in both scale and diversity,” Wakefield said. “With our new co-curators, we’ll be exploring issues and ideas for the 2019 exhibition that I anticipate will draw far reaching audiences, hopefully expanding on that of 2017.”

Artist Claudia Comte in front of her “Curves and Zig Zags,” which she created for the inaugural Desert X.
(Lance Gerber / Desert X)

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