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16 lustrous photos of Coachella Valley’s trippy outdoor art festival, Desert X

A mirrored house and an underground bunker

Billboard art by Jennifer Bolande at Desert X.
ShashiBellamkonda/Creative Commons

Desert X, a free outdoor art exhibition in the Coachella Valley, is in full swing right now. Visual art installations are spread out from Coachella to Desert Hot Springs and a bunch of places in between. From Doug Aitken’s cool, mirror-covered house to an actual underground bunker, which appears seemingly in the middle of nowhere, the site-specific art pieces look fun to interact with—and are infinitely Instagram worthy.

Those who haven’t yet made the trek east to see the desert exhibition still have time. The events runs through the end of April. Tickets are not required, but check the exhibition’s website before venturing out, because some installations are only available on certain days or at certain times.

For a taste of what Desert X has to offer, we’ve rounded up 16 photos of a handful of the pieces on view.

Jennifer Bolande’s “Visible Distance/Second Sight”

Located at Gene Autry Trail and Vista Chino, this series of billboard art pieces by Bolande features a photograph of the mountains that the viewers area driving toward. DesertX’s site notes that the photos are uniquely positioned so that at a certain point, they perfectly align with the horizon, “thus reconnecting the space that the rectangle of the billboard has interrupted.”

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Phillip K. Smith III’s “The Circle of Land and Sky”

Smith’s piece in Palm Desert is made up of “300 geometric reflectors angled at 10 degrees,” and throughout the day, the reflectors present different images so that it appears as though “land and sky are separated, merged, and displaced.”

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Sherin Guirguis’s “One I Call”

Inspired by “traditional pigeon towers found throughout the desert villages of Egypt,” Guirguis’s site-specific installation at Whitewater Preserve is a physical structure guests can walk into.

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Will Boone’s “Monument”

This installation in Rancho Mirage is an underground bunker with a large, painted bronze figure that appears to be late president John F. Kennedy inside. The piece is meant to recall both the “extinguished optimism” of the ‘60s as well as the return of some similar fears of that time (e.g. nuclear attacks).

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Tavares Strachan “I Am”

Strachan’s piece in Rancho Mirage involved digging almost 300 “craters” in the ground over a space the size of two football fields. The installation looks like cool, glowing Jacuzzis from the ground, but when viewed from above, the strategically placed holes spell out “I Am” in giant letters.

Doug Aitken’s “Mirage”

This one-story, ranch-style house in Desert Palisades is covered in mirrors, inside and out. This means that at times, the house seems to disappear from the outside, totally blending into the landscape, while inside, the house is “a never-ending kaleidoscope of light and reflection.”

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