Desert X 2021 art festival is now open

Photo courtesy of The Chaparral. NICHOLAS GALANIN Never Forget.

The Desert X  international art exhibition opened its third edition on Friday, March 12 and continues through May 16, 2021, at sites across the Coachella Valley. Free, safe and open to all, Desert X 2021 is among the first art experiences in the region since widespread lockdowns.

Curated by Artistic Director Neville Wakefield and Co-Curator César García-Alvarez, the exhibition presents thirteen newly-commissioned installations by a diverse roster of artists from eight countries. The collective works look deeper at ideas essential to the sustenance of our future and identity and the histories, realities and possibilities of the Coachella Valley and its many communities. It explores the desert as both a place and idea, highlighting the people who reside here and the political, social, and cultural contexts that shape their stories.

Photo Courtesy of Desert X. Oscar Murillo’s ‘Frequencies.’ 

“Much as the desert is a state of place, it is also a state of mind. Its borders are not singular but multiple, and it is defined as much by social geography as a physical boundary,” said Artistic Director Neville Wakefield. “DesertX 2021 seeks to explore this idea of the desert as a place where the marginalized and migratory – whose voices and histories may have struggled to manifest within the dominant discourses of growth and development can also be heard.”

Friday’s opening saw a steady stream of visitors, eager to attend. Most Coachella Valley events have been canceled due to Covid-19. Desert X  is a welcome diversion for many and a chance to discover new art, concepts and inspire conversation. Christopher Blaine of Anaheim brought his family to the valley for a weekend of outdoor adventure. “Options have been so limited this year. It’s a treat for us to able to get out and see something new. The kids love the exhibitions.” Desert X has provided The Family Guide, a user-friendly educational tool for visitors to the installations. You can download the guide here.

“DesertX 2021 seeks to explore this idea of the desert as a place where the marginalized and migratory … can also be heard.”

— Artistic Director Neville Wakefield

Desert X 2021 artists include Zahrah Alghamdi, Ghada Amer, Felipe Baeza, Judy Chicago, Serge Attukwei Clottey, Nicholas Galanin, Alicja Kwade, Oscar Murillo, Christopher Myers,  Eduardo Sarabia, Xaviera Simmons, Kim Stringfellow, Vivian Suter. Full descriptions and installation images of the 2021 artists’ projects are now available and a site map, opening dates and hours for each project can be found at

The exhibition explores the desert as both a place and idea, acknowledging the histories, realities and possibilities of people who reside in the Coachella Valley and the political, social and cultural contexts that shape their stories.

Imagining the landscape as both an amalgamation of natural forms and a terrain forged by people, the 2021 edition refuses the notion of the desert as a homogenous entity.

Newly-commissioned works address themes of land rights and ownership, the desert as border, migration, water exploitation, social justice, racial narratives of the west, the gendered landscape and the role of women and young people and the creation of new dialogues between regional and global desert experiences.

In an effort to make the exhibition and the ideas and conversations provoked by it available to the widest possible audience, Desert X 2021 will present Currents, a robust series of public and education programs inspired by the desert’s layered geological forms and the forces that shape deserts and the immediacy of this moment.

The programs will amplify the ideas and questions raised in the exhibition. Through Virtual Gatherings, Hybrid Programs, and Educational Resources, the public programming is grounded in the pasts, present, and futures of both the Coachella Valley and communities around the globe that are shaped by shared circumstances.

A special Desert X printed program available at the Desert X Hub at the Ace Hotel & Swim Club will contain up-to-date information on how to experience the exhibition and its public safety and education programs operating in compliance with CDC, State and County regulations. The map of the 2021 installations can also be found online at and via the Desert X 2021 app available here.

Photo Courtesy of Desert X. Serge Attukwei Clottey’s ‘The Wishing Well.’ 

The health and safety of all visitors, artists, employees, volunteers, and the community is a priority for program sponsors. Please visit for information on how to experience Desert X safely. Plan ahead and prepare, walk on designated paths, dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, respect wildlife, don’t smoke, and be considerate of other visitors.

The Desert X Hub 2021 hub is located at the Ace Hotel & Swim Club,701 E Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs.

Stop by to pick up your Desert X 2021 guide, map of artist installations and visitor information. Opening Hours: Thursday, March 11 – Sunday, March 14 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit for opening hours during the run of the exhibition.

For guided tours and accommodations throughout the duration of the exhibition, please contact [email protected]. Docents are available to provide information at most sites every Saturday between March 12 and May 16, 2021, from 10 a.m. to noon.