Artbound

S12 E4 | FULL EPISODE

Desert X 2021

The desert is both a place and idea. Learn how the recurring site-specific, international art exhibition "Desert X" in 2021 explored issues such as land ownership, water scarcity and overlooked histories. Desert X includes newly commissioned works by 12 participating artists from eight countries.

AIRED: November 03, 2021 | 0:56:34
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
TRANSCRIPT

Woman: I'm eager for people to

experience art outside the walls

of a museum.

Man: Desert X is a show that's

free. You can come at it

however you want.

Woman: Part of the experience is

driving through these endless

highway miles and these

dirt roads.

Man: You know, the idea of

having this continuous sequence

of discoveries.

Woman: What you see is issues of

Black Lives Matter,

sustainability.

Woman 2: Environmental issues,

immigration issues.

Man: But at the root of every

artist's project is, ultimately,

the desert.

Man 2: We're in an unbounded

environment and the hope is that

the conversations will be

equally unbounded.

Announcer: This program was

made possible in part by

City of Los Angeles Department

of Cultural Affairs, Los Angeles

County Department of Arts &

Culture, National Endowment for

the Arts, and the Frieda

Berlinski Foundation.

Man: Richard Mille is more

determined than ever to support

creativity today with Desert X.

This unique outdoor art

experience aligns with our

commitment to promote the art

and craft of fine watchmaking,

bringing it into a new realm of

design, art, sculpture,

and architecture.

[Birds squawking]

Man: We're sitting right behind

one of the first installations,

which at the moment is a

skeleton waiting to receive

the parts.

I think what's exciting to me

about a show like this is these

pieces aren't up forever, you

know. The idea is that they come

here and encourage exploration,

discovery of the environment

that they inhabit, and then

leave, hopefully without

any trace.

This is Nicholas Galanin's

piece.

Some of these projects have a

long gestation period.

This is one of them, and it's

been worth the wait.

Galanin: Neville reached out to

me 3 years ago.

I flew out to Desert X.

Just a site visit to go visit

the land and visit the

community and get an

understanding for the history.

If you look at the street names

and the boutique hotels,

it was very clear that the

chosen narrative in this space

was the Hollywood narrative.

And this work is engaging with

that in many different ways.

Wakefield: It's a riff on the

Hollywood sign and the

connection between

Palm Springs and Hollywood.

He is interested in the

mythology of the American West

as it's been co-opted by

Hollywood in particular in those

tales of cowboys and Indians.

[Gunfire]

Galanin: Hollywood cinema

historically glamorized

settler violence

towards our communities.

The history of the sign itself

is highly problematic.

The icon that this work is based

off of was a real estate land

advertisement for a

white community.

This work, it's been

built to scale.

It's massive.

Indigenous communities.

The original stewards to this

place for 10,000+ years.

We have less than 3%

of land title.

Wakefield: The idea of this

piece is actually a call to

action and we hope

that this work can be

attached to the land back

movement in a significant way.

Galanin: The land back movement

is a call for landowners to

return land back to

Indigenous communities.

Doing the opposite of the

original sign,

this work is trying to invite

everyone to understand these

histories and to participate.

Wakefield: You know, one of the

missions of Desert X, I think,

is facilitating artists to

create works that are responding

to the manifold conditions here.

And it's very different from a

institutional show, where you

might start with a thesis and

then use the art to illustrate

the thesis. You know, the thesis

is, is here.

Woman: The so-called creation

story of Desert X is that I

wanted people to be able

to engage with art and learn

about this community and then,

more importantly, to learn about

each other.

Woman: The first year, it was

so exciting.

The way that it focused the

attention on the natural world

with these unexpected views.

We were so taken.

Davis: The miracle of Desert X

is that you have people from

all over the world coming

together, where they can have

conversation, share experiences.

Man: Kind of looks like it

goes all the way down to the

center of the earth.

Woman: I thought it was awesome.

It wasn't something we're

expecting, so.

Wakefield: All art is

conversation. Where that

conversation leads us is what

makes something like this

interesting and, you know, a

show like this is about

questions. It's not about

answers.

So, now we're in the fourth

iteration of Desert X, and I

think the way that this differs

from the first is that this one

is engaging with the social

landscape as much as it is with

the physical landscape.

Davis: The show this year is

really a show for our times.

We've just gone through 15

months where we've grappled

with humongous issues,

all in our own isolation.

Wakefield: Certainly at the

beginning of COVID, it was a

thought that this maybe couldn't

happen.

It's an improbable show

to pull off.

Davis: Neville and I felt

that it was imperative

that we move forward.

Wakefield: The museums in L.A.

have been closed, but

this kind of art is

obviously outdoors.

Doesn't involve large

concentrations of people.

And I think it's gonna be

one of the first shows to

open. And, you know, I think

people are seeking cultural

nourishment.

Woman: What is super important

for me, which became

more important in the last

year, is to place art

in public spaces.

We believe that it is

like a very powerful tool and I

started to think what I could

propose for Desert X.

I thought it would be such a

great idea to bring the

actually Icelandic idea, which

was about the glaciers and the

environment and

water and melting.

I hope that it's creating this

very hard contrast, but also

kind of wake up this idea of

where we are and what we do.

Wakefield: Alicja's piece is on

top of a hill. And I think

there's a reason for that.

There is this kind of space

between things and I think

the sculpture itself is

an exploration of that.

We're seeing in between what we

would normally look at.

I mean, that's what's exciting

about this show.

You're discovering not just the

pieces but also the spaces

in between.

For 2021, I've been working

with Cesar Garcia-Alvarez

as a co-curator

and I think he's brought so much

to it.

Garcia-Alvarez: Quite frankly, I

never imagined myself working

out in the desert.

I have a complicated

relationship to the region.

I was born in Mexico in a border

town that's about two hours

south from here.

This was the desert we traversed

to get to the United States.

So, it's often been a space

I've avoided, but I decided the

notion of coming to a place

where I had skin in the game

seemed like an interesting

opportunity.

I spend the first couple of

months in this project trying to

learn more about the people who

lived here and their stories.

Who were the people that made up

this place?

Woman: It was a rainy morning

in January 1943.

I read a small item in a Los

Angeles newspaper stating that

Uncle Sam was opening certain

public lands in the desert for

5-acre homestead leases.

Jackrabbit homesteads,

they were called.

Woman 2: All kinds of people

really lived and experienced

the desert.

The idea of this is to really

break down the stereotypes of

the people that participate in

these particular landscapes.

Riverside County was opened

for small tracts with the

Small Tract Act in 1938.

You were able to get 5 acres

from the federal government.

This was a working-class dream.

A lot of people may not

own property.

Westerns were king. You know,

this is a way to get your piece

of the American West.

Woman: That first night on my

jackrabbit homestead was one of

the longest nights of my life.

The light of the lamps from my

windows gave me an uneasy,

target-like feeling.

It quieted my uneasiness to peer

out the windows to see what I

could see.

I thought of staying up all

night, but was soon driven to

bed for warmth.

Stringfellow: This woman's

voice, it's based on

the writings of

Catherine Venn Peterson.

She got her homestead in 1950

and she wrote about it

for "Desert" Magazine.

Woman: The little rock hill

behind my cabana was dotted with

butter-gold clusters of encelia.

This was the only visible change

on the hill in the 4 months

since I had taken up abode

at its base.

Stringfellow: She kept her life

very rustic. Like, these did not

have electricity. There was no

water. And she actually drove it

out for the first time on a

flatbed truck from Pasadena,

where she purchased it.

I kind of did the same thing

here by bringing it down from

the high desert.

Hi! Basically, we're gonna do

something like this,

and this is the door.

Being a single woman, you know,

I was really intrigued by this

idea that these women did this,

especially in that time period,

because it was pretty tough.

Woman: It was extremely unusual

for a woman to be able to buy

property in the forties and

fifties. If you were married,

you couldn't have your own

bank account.

Stringfellow: That angle's

perfect.

It's a--kind of owed to her

but it's also kind of my

alter ego in a way.

The story of the American West

is written by a white,

Euro-American male perspective.

So, this re-evaluates

who those people were.

Man: One of the things that I

think is fascinating about Palm

Springs is the idea that you

have all of these communities

from way, way back in the day

kind of coming together

in the possibility of

this place.

This place is naturally a

pretty harsh place to live.

But all these folks come

together in this possibility.

The West was one of those places

that had so much open in it.

So much imagination in it.

The unwritten story of the West

includes things like

one in 4 cowboys were Black.

Cattle ranchers needed the skill

that these men brought to bear.

That skill transcended so much

of the discrimination that they

would have naturally faced.

The West was full of people of

color. African-American

and Chicano cowboys who were

trying to reinvent themselves

and rewrite history, and we

forget these histories

so easily, I think.

We make statues to bring the

past into the future.

Statues end up being the sort of

time travelers of our narrative.

This is a monument in the form

of 6 steel horses and 6 banners

that tell the story of

Alton Vero and Loper.

Two cowboys that build the world

for themselves

in Palm Springs.

Garcia-Alvarez: The work of

Chris' along Tahquitz Canyon and

these sculptures also lead up

to a very problematic monument

in Palm Springs of a former

mayor and a horse that some

community members tried to

remove a few years ago,

to no success.

Myers: To be in this place of

traditional monuments

and to kind of offer an

alternative to what traditional

monuments are,

that's part of what the point of

this work is.

The problem with monuments in

the past has been

their definitiveness.

They stand as the periods at the

end of the sentence of history.

I'm not interested in periods.

I'm interested in commas and

semicolons, question marks,

open ends.

There is always a conversation

to be had about who we are,

about where we're going, about

Where we've come from.

Garcia-Alvarez: This is a

border region.

We are incredibly close

to a border.

There is a history of movement

of people here.

That was the next conversation

I wanted to have--what migration

means and what the American

dream actually entails.

Man: When I first got invited to

Desert X, I immediately thought

about the desert.

I thought about my mother

and her journey through

that desert.

Crossing the border and coming

to the United States.

I usually don't know what I'm

making or what these projects

turn into.

I like telling a little bit

about my story with different

textures and different layers of

things that are happening.

Garcia-Alvarez: Most stories of

migration are always

about people coming to

the United States from other

places. Eduardo decided to leave

the United States and go back to

his parents' home country.

And his story, I think to some

folks, may seem unique, but it's

actually something that we're

seeing more and more of.

Sarabia: I was thinking a lot

about journey and a maze kept

coming up in my head.

It's one of those symbols that

just, like, represents how

complicated things can be

or feel.

The viewer enters the maze and

they become the passenger.

The walls are made out of

petates. It's a

traditional material that's been

used in Mexico for

sleeping mats and for traveling.

A lot of rich history

around the material

that triggers all these

feelings, kind of

warm, inviting place.

[Woman speaks Spanish]

Sarabia: Once you make all the

decisions that get you to this

center area, that's where

anything is possible.

I'm hoping that the viewer is

willing to contemplate their

situation and have a little bit

of perspective on somebody

else's situation.

You're imagining all the

possibilities before you see the

light at the end of the tunnel.

Man: The first time I heard

about Sarabia's "Passenger,"

I was really excited.

I thought, "Wow,

what a cool piece. I can't wait

to see it in person."

And then I saw it in person and

it had just a tremendous

effect on me.

My father, to walk through a

desert at 15 years old,

didn't have an education,

didn't have any money on him.

I could see that kid in him who

was walking through a desert

scared for the first time,

not sure what was gonna happen.

This reminded him of all that.

As we're entering "The

Passenger," he's touching

these walls.

He's remembering who he was

at that age.

What he was wearing and the

people he was with. And he just

describes to me some of the most

crazy experience

I've never knew about.

There's things in the desert

when you're walking,

you don't expect to see.

There are people in the desert

who don't make it.

And you as a 16-year-old

walking the first time, you

encounter this and you just

have to keep going.

Being here sunk that all in

for me.

I learned so much about my

father from this experience.

I've never seen him get

emotional my entire life.

This was the first time ever

I've seen that man

shed a tear.

I saw this everywhere as a kid.

I saw this a lot and I never

really understood what it meant

and why it was important.

I just thought it looks cool.

But I didn't realize that this

is like at the root of our

people.

This represents our culture

and to be surrounded by it

and almost blinded by it.

You're not gonna be the same

person that went in.

It's gonna change you forever.

Man: That really vast, beautiful

area of the desert right

there is Indian land.

As all this is, and we need to

remember that.

Man 2: We're about halfway

through the exhibition and

as we get further into the show,

it's interesting to have strong

reactions to the work.

Man 3: For me, the most powerful

piece was

Christopher Myers' piece,

which looks at sort of,

who do you put on a pedestal?

Who do you put on a horse?

Man 4: I think that's a great

piece of art, and it is socially

conscious, so, it is important.

Woman: Well, you know, it's

legit Indian land

and it was taken.

We've seen 3 so far.

Man: Yeah. This is the

fourth one.

Woman: I really am looking

forward to seeing

all of them.

Davis: I believe, personally,

that art is extraordinarily

important to the soul.

On opening day, the numbers of

people who came out

and were literally gleeful at

not only seeing art, but being

with people.

Woman: Started to cry.

Woman 2: Yeah, literally

started to cry because it was

just, you know, just the

message around kind of

community and coming together

and--

Woman 1: It was just perfect.

Woman 2: Yeah.

Woman 3: So far, "Women's

Qualities" is my

favorite piece.

Woman 4: It's sensitive and

simultaneously strong.

It doesn't reveal itself too

quickly. You walk in and just

see beautiful nature and

botanicals and it's only

as you're experiencing it that

you realize it's letters

and words

and thoughts about women.

Woman 5: I'm doing the work

called "Woman's Quality."

It's a piece that I have done in

2001 and I asked people in the

streets. 7 woman's quality.

I took these words and I wrote

it with flowers.

[Man grunts]

Amer: I want to know what are

they thinking about?

Man: Perfect.

Amer: I want to know, like, it's

a ghost, like,

where are we standing?

The title gives you a clue.

Man: How does that look?

Actually, I think this looks

pretty good.

Ha ha ha ha!

Woman: "Nurturing" and "loving"

and "determination."

Are you determined or what?

Woman: I'm definitely a

determined woman.

Dambrot: Ghada's work,

I found it really enchanting.

You're looking at flower boxes

on a lawn, but it was perfect as

a way to have a conversation

about feminism and strength

and fragility and thriving,

like, literally and

metaphorically speaking.

Amer: I chose to do this

because when the woman were

allowed to paint, they were

allowed to do portraits.

They weren't allowed to do any

other thing than portraits.

So, I am choosing the

portraiture with flowers

because of that.

Woman: Been a master gardener

for over 20 years.

Through history, women have had

an intimate relationship with

plants. To nourish your family,

to care for your family,

to heal your family,

keep your family in balance

with the land, you depend on

plants.

Woman 2: The feeling of being

surrounded by these words.

It's really extraordinary.

I've been alone for the

pandemic. So, to be around this,

in contrast to that,

was like grace, these words.

They were reminders.

Amer: "Beautiful," "loving,"

"nurturing," "resilient,"

"strong," "caring,"

and "determined."

It's too much, no?

Dambrot: You know, I think about

this all the time.

There's no question that land

art has been dominated by men.

Garcia-Alvarez: There's a

pattern. Most of them are men.

Most of them are white men

who are advancing this history

of land art, right?

Histories of land art

don't always entail these

monumental gestures within

the land.

Woman: I move to Guatemala

because I like the nature there

so much.

Also wanted to get away of the

art society that have

strict rules.

I work outside.

I use the paintings. They'd be

on the floor. And there's a

storm and the leaves and sticks

come and the dogs walk over and

they stay there.

Garcia-Alvarez: Vivian's

relationship to the

natural environment is one of

the most genuine from any

living artist that I know

who's grappling with

ideas of the landscape.

There is a mystical, even

emotional and psychological

dimension to these works that

remind us that places

have feelings.

And that is what I think Vivian

brings to this project.

How the desert is felt

and lived.

[Suter speaks Spanish]

[Garcia-Alvarez speaks Spanish]

Garcia-Alvarez: Vivian's work is

going to be installed in a very

iconic, modernist building,

right in the heart of

Palm Springs.

So, you have two landscapes in

conversation in the

installation.

[Garcia-Alvarez and Suter

speak Spanish]

Dambrot: Vivian Suter's piece is

absolutely informed by and

inflected with the tradition of

land art.

Much like the landscape itself,

it's a flying expanse

of tiny details.

All kinds of things happening

in there.

When you go to take a picture of

it, you're like, "My picture

doesn't look anything like

the landscape."

It's inside a former

commercial setting.

It's inaccessible.

You got this meta--

oh, you want to talk about land

use? Talk about why there's

even a city here.

I mean, the water usage to keep

half of it vaguely alive

is insane.

The city itself is this insane

fiction of urban...whatever.

I mean, yeah. Welcome.

Garcia-Alvarez: There are major

water problems here.

Especially when you look at

communities in the East Valley.

We are going to have a major

water crisis at a global scale.

Thinking about water as a

connecting thread,

I invited Serge to bring these

conversations to the forefront.

Man: Ghana, where I'm from,

water is a major issue

that we deal with every single

day in our life.

I'm looking at the consumption

aspect of the jerry cans.

How toxic it is to store water

in them.

It's not hygienic.

It's not safe to store water.

So, what else do we

use them for?

[Saw whirring]

I started cutting

the containers.

Garcia-Alvarez: Serge represents

a new generation of young

artists working in Africa that

are attempting to advance an art

scene globally, but also to

reconnect with cultural and art

historical traditions

in their countries.

Clottey: I'm interested in

engaging community

as part of my practice.

4, 5 people working on

one piece.

Garcia-Alvarez: Serge's work

was not welcomed

city of Coachella.

It made some elected officials

very uncomfortable when we tried

to open up conversations about

this water crisis.

I have to say, I was incredibly

disappointed.

And then we received an email

from a group of community

members that said, "We'd like

you to consider this location."

Man: My name is Dieter Crawford.

I'm vice president of the Desert

Highland Gateway Estates

Community Action Association.

We thought that it would be a

good fit being that we're

the largest predominantly Black

community in the Coachella

Valley.

And we also have our issues here

around environmental and social

injustice.

This neighborhood,

it's long been underserved by

the city of Palm Springs.

We currently live here in a food

desert.

There's no pharmacies nearby.

There's no banks.

There's no museums.

There's no libraries.

And that goes back to some of

the historic segregation in the

country with redlining.

We know that art fosters

intellectual curiosity.

Our hope in bringing this to the

neighborhood is that when you

came to Palm Springs, that you

would see the community center,

you'd see the mural,

and you would understand that

there is a African-American

community here.

Woman: I didn't know this park

was here until

this piece was here.

Woman 2: She grew up here,

for context.

Woman: Yeah. I grew up here.

My family's been here

since 1964.

Crawford: The reaction's been

pretty favorable.

We've been doing lots of events

here and it's just really gotten

the community out

and got them engaged.

Clottey: Yeah, and I'm happy

that I met with--with the kids

because, I mean, working with

kids has been part of my life.

Masks, for me, has been

something that represents, you

know, a tribe, you know. It

represent people, represent

history. The masks you create

now represent yourself,

represent your vision,

your aspiration.

You know, what you want

as person.

I have my own mask

that I made from the jerry cans.

I'm sure tomorrow you'll see it.

When I put them on, I transform.

Garcia-Alvarez: What I find

really powerful about Serge's

work is his performances,

where he was engaging in

these processions.

The conversation translates

across geographies.

Davis: The group that was able

to gather here were moved,

I think to tears in many cases,

to see him bring together

issues of sustainability,

community, Black Lives Matter,

all in a 15-minute performance.

Man: Showing that there's a

struggle to get water,

there's a struggle to live,

there's a struggle as a people,

as African-Americans as well as

Africans and seeing the

relationship that the parallel

of our cultures from one

continent to the next.

Wakefield: For 2021,

these artists brought a very

different kind of aspect to this

Desert X and one that is really

trying to go deeper into this

idea of social history.

Garcia-Alvarez: There is a long

and difficult history here in

the Coachella Valley around its

relationship to migrant

communities,

to queer communities.

It's a difficult history that a

lot of people don't like to

acknowledge.

So, for me, opening up those

dialogues is what really drew me

in when I was thinking about

what kind of artists I'd invite

to the show.

Man: My name is Felipe Baeza

and we're in my studio.

Home and land are complicated

issues that I'm still trying to

figure out for myself.

You know, I came here

at a young age.

I don't have a sense of home

in this country.

How do I inhabit and live here

in my fullness,

outside of citizenship?

Garcia-Alvarez: I spend a large

part of my youth

undocumented in this country.

Felipe's work sort of got me

to a place thinking about

the responsibilities that come

with having those experiences.

Baeza: When I was thinking about

the project for Desert X,

my initial thought was to

make a mosaic tile mural

to highlight queer people of

color and immigrants

in the valley.

The mirror itself is comprised

of tiles hand-painted by

artisans at the Ceramica Suro

in Guadalajara.

I think for me it was also

important for me not to fully be

part of the process...

and for the work to be

translated through other hands.

[Man speaks Spanish]

Baeza: The mirror itself is

comprised of two hands made out

of different tints of skins.

Through these arms, you would

assume there is a wound, but

there's something flourishing

and thriving.

Garcia-Alvarez: Felipe's work is

remarkably beautiful.

I as a curator have almost

been trained to be incredibly

suspicious of pretty things.

Beauty in Felipe's work is

emancipatory.

It's about giving people who

can't think beyond their current

reality the opportunity to site

themselves in a better communal

future.

Baeza: Been interesting to work

at this scale, but also to work

in regards to making a public

artwork.

Engaging with it right now,

one-on-one, just seeing

the monumentality and seeing

these two brown hands

has quite of an impact on me.

To imagine that other people

like me with similar

experiences will see those hands

but also people that don't have

a similar experience will see

those hands, to know that those

histories, those bodies

live here.

Woman: I think it's beautiful to

see this work in public space

because this show has compounded

people's experiences.

There are many exhibitions about

the Americas, about race, but

they're inside of institutions,

which have closed doors.

When you're outdoors, you're

able to surprise people.

Wakefield: Initially,

...team

had a billboard project.

The first one was by Jennifer

Balerdi and it was really about

taking that space and using it

to advertise the space

it inhabited.

And now in 2021,

we have Xaviera, who's creating

this sort of synthetic moment

that you drive by, and I'm not

quite sure what it is.

Simmons: You get a call from

Neville and he's like,

"I want you to make these

billboards. Do you want to do

them?" And I'm like,

"Of course."

My brain really started to

kind of go and think about,

like, well, what can I say and

do with this

large-scale announcement?

This country was built off of

300 years of free labor.

Force. Violently.

It takes a lot of work to undo

that. We live within the

fallacies of collective

imagination that's been

constructed for us.

Woman: I was particularly struck

by Xaviera Simmons's billboards.

This is an artist who has long

thought about land--who benefits

from that land occupation

and who doesn't.

Wakefield: I had a sense of

what they would look like,

but I didn't have a sense of

the actual impact.

You see a call for reparations

next to "Make America Great!

Rocky's Pawn Shop," or an advert

for mattresses.

These puncture the reality of

that drive across the desert.

Simmons: When I'm making these

billboards, I'm thinking about a

conversation between the

billboard company, the land that

it sits on, the men who are

gonna put the billboard up.

And then the passers-by. All of

that primarily is dominated by

white people. Whiteness as a

construction has to

shift entirely.

[People chanting "Black Lives

Matter"]

Simmons: Had this moment not

happened in this country

at this particular time,

I'm not sure that we would have

been collectively ready for the

information inside of this

billboard.

I'm hoping that the language and

the image will start to shift

people's minds about what

needs to happen,

given the histories here.

Sarabia: So, what's going on?

Little repairs this morning?

It's funny how I was just

thinking it was just kind of

pushing you back and it's like

it's--it's, you know, feels

alive. Like stitching

up a person.

I like that time

is part of the aesthetic.

It's been up for 3 months

surviving windstorms and

sandstorms and sun,

and getting deep and

people visiting.

And, you know, and with this

wind, you know, it's breathing.

It sounds like it's aged. Ha ha!

Wakefield: The desert's always

present in the work.

It's not just a context.

It's really part of it.

You can look at these pieces in

photography, you know, in

renders as we did before.

Then you are here and you're in

front of the work and there are

crows wheeling above it.

You can feel the temperature.

It's all part of it.

We're in Desert Hot Springs.

We're behind Zahrah Alghamdi's

work.

The desert is delivering

its visceral experience.

It's hot, windy, and beautiful.

[Woman speaks Arabic]

Man: There's a lot of care

in the engineering.

That wall is 27 feet tall, 25

feet wide, by two foot thick.

So, it's a wind sail.

That wall is highly engineered.

There's 6 x 6-inch posts.

We know that wall's not gonna

tip over.

[Alghamdi speaks Arabic]

Wakefield: To me, the piece,

it's both a redaction of the

landscape but also an

invitation to look behind it.

That invitation is

really important.

Man: You know, my background,

I'm from Iran.

There are certain connotations

to that sort of structure that

to me kind of stood out.

From far, it kind of

looks like Mecca.

It's monolithic first, but it's

a thin wall. Which, to me,

was kind of interesting.

That sort of perception of

something that's--

Woman: An illusion.

Man: Yeah.

Dambrot: The experience of

walking up there yields

all these sort of secrets

and you see the way that

the wind and the elements have

started to erode it.

The idea that it could tumble,

we've been there before

in human history.

Wakefield: You know, just so

many of the works like the one

here speak about accretion and

how history is a

process of layering and

accumulation.

So, hopefully, is the

exhibition.

Garcia-Alvarez: The way that

time plays out in this

exhibition, that's something

I want to take

from this process.

The fact that we can not

necessarily curate just in

space, but we should curate

across time.

Woman: Where do we want to go,

guys?

Do we want to go to Azerbaijan,

for instance?

Frequency started as an exercise

to engage and collaborate with

youth, particularly kids aged 10

to 16. Oscar sees in that group

a transition from being children

to being adolescents.

You see? I mean, the amount of

energy that they have.

It's just amazing.

Since beginning, we've been to

more than 350 schools and we

have collaborated with about

100,000 children worldwide.

Man: Frequency is this idea

that constant movement, constant

flux, and the only thing that is

consistent is this recording

device in a desk, such as

this one here.

We affix a blank canvas on

the surface of the desk, and we

really leave it there

as a recording device of

6 months.

The conversations is very much

about this idea of freedom.

To me, they look like 19th-

century manuscripts.

Dublanc: I think that this is

quite interesting as well

because you see the

desk shape, yeah?

This come from Colombia,

actually, from the region where

Oscar was born.

And, you know, I mean, the sort

of messaging that you have here,

[speaks Spanish]

"You can overcome everything,

but you cannot forget."

We had always given ourselves a

decade to do this project.

That decade was coming to an end

and all of a sudden

COVID happened.

[Child speaks indistinctly]

Woman: You help me remember

the things...

Man: We adapted the project for

the home learning experience

and about 1,000 students

throughout the Coachella Valley

received canvases that were

stretched in wooden boards

to simulate, like, the flat

surface of a desk.

And the idea is that over the

duration of this exhibition,

students are going to be giving

us an insight on how this

educational experience has

transformed.

We don't know what the outcome

is gonna be, which is one of

the exciting things about the

project.

Girl: Me and my sister had

decided to come up with this

idea. Basically, just means that

we're all in this together

and that we're all the same, no

matter what.

Murillo: I think this idea of

Frequencies at home is something

more for the future as a memory

of the times that we're going

through, as a record of that

shift that I think we will see

in education.

Wakefield: What's particularly

interesting about Oscar's

project and the conversations

that we're seeing here is that

you see Black Lives Matter,

you see every sort of societal

change that we've been through.

What's wonderful here is that

the children seem to be more

in touch with those social

resonances perhaps than

the adults.

I think it's a lovely way to end

because I think it's a sort of

handing off.

We always hope that the works

that we do by these emerging and

established artists are gonna

be inspirational, and in a way,

this is the manifestation of

their inspiration.

It's been quite emotional

particularly in COVID with

everything that we've been

through.

Garcia-Alvarez: It was such a

strange exhibition, from

organizing it in the middle of a

pandemic to having so many

aspects of every project and

exhibition be a fight

in many ways.

Wakefield: Obstacles aside

and the pandemic aside,

I think there have been so many

sort of different conversations

that have been running through

it. I'll be sad to be leaving

those conversations behind.

Dambrot: I'm so glad that I went

because this year was about

quiet moments, real issues,

and thinking them over.

It was perfect for a world

that's thinking about everything

in new ways.

Quieter ways.

I think I needed

a meditative version this year.

Davis: Giving people the

opportunity to be

up close and personal with

these large art installations

is critical and important

and good for the soul.

Wakefield: Desert X is a

temporary exhibition.

We try to leave no trace.

We come and we go and we hope

that we leave not much

behind other than

changed attitudes.

Announcer: This program was made

possible in part by City of Los

Angeles Department of

Cultural Affairs,

Los Angeles County Department of

Arts & Culture, National

Endowment for the Arts, and

the Frieda Berlinski Foundation.

Man: Richard Mille is more

determined than ever to support

creativity today with Desert X.

This unique outdoor art

experience aligns with

our commitment to promote the

art and craft of fine

watchmaking, bringing it into

a new realm of design,

art, sculpture,

and architecture.

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