Deserts are weird, gorgeous, often frightening ecosystems that in the 20th and 21st centuries have inspired artists to experiment in original and daring ways. This weekend, as festival-goers head to the Coachella Valley, they'll find the desert landscape turned into a gallery, with site-specific installations sprouting up among the scrub, for the outdoor exhibition Desert X.
Arguably the most famous artist participating in Desert X, Doug Aitken presents his version of a desert mirage: a small house plated in mirrors reflecting a distorted image of the rocks and sparse vegetation of the environment. Along Gene Autry Trail, photographer Jennifer Bolande has installed billboards depicting the actual mountains drivers are approaching, each billboard precisely positioned so that the photograph lines up—from one point along the road—with the ridges of the hills behind it.
The desert at night has its own peculiar magic. Tavares Strachan dug 290 craters in the desert floor and installed neon tubes inside each one. From above, the illuminated shapes spell out the words "I am," but when viewed on the ground, the work turns the desert into an otherworldly oasis of light.
For more information on the artists and installations in Desert X, visit desertx.org. The exhibition runs through April 29 in the Coachella Valley.