The second edition of the Desert X biennial continues, ambitious and a little battered by the elements, through April 21. While there’s no denying that project’s success in turning the world’s attention to the landscape of the Coachella Valley region, it’s important to remember that the area has its own unique art world all year long.
Frequently, artists who live, work and exhibit in the desert cities experiment with ways to express the complexities of man’s relationship to the landscape. Currently, two such artists are showing important works that explore the environmental and biological consequences of our actions, across genres of film, sculpture, installation, sound and performance.
The outdoor limited-run land-art sculpture Desert Sea by Cristopher Cichocki is on view outdoors every day and night through May 5, offering a changing sculpture of plants, fossils and environmental and studio art materials that is both alluring and eerie, organic and alien. The multimedia performance Circular Dimensions activates the work with a one-night-only event on Saturday, April 6. And nearby, Jeff Frost’s video-art masterpiece California on Fire screens Thursdays through Saturdays through April 20 inside a repurposed stable.
California on Fire
Known as a video and sound artist, to make California on Fire Jeff Frost had to also become sort of a firefighter. He trained, a lot, and thus gained intimate access to some 70 wildfires in Southern California over a five-year period, shooting 350,000 photographs at the sites. The images and original sound are woven together to form a pageant of infernos that are both majestic and terrible, devastating and awe-inspiring, and illustrate in the most hypnotic, visceral way the violent cost of climate change. He’s screening it in a converted camel stable.
31275 Desert Palm Drive, Thousand Palms; screenings Thu.-Sat., 6 & 7 p.m., through April 20; free.
Coachella Valley artist Cristopher Cichocki’s latest installation is inspired by the surreal history of the CV biome — now an artificially cultivated and industrialized world existing in the middle of a vast desert that itself was once an inland sea. No stranger to unconventional materials, in this large-scale, accumulative outdoor sculpture, Cichocki makes use of branches and agricultural gear, native local plants and fish skeletons from the Salton Sea, in a wide altarlike ceremonial mound that changes not only over time, as elements decay and are replaced, but from day into night as the lighting provokes the fluorescent and blacklight-activated paint with which it is festooned.
68600 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Cathedral City; on view outdoors 24/7 through Sun., May 5; free.
It’s in the context of the ongoing public art project Desert Sea that this weekend’s one-night augmented, enhanced, live-mixed audio/visual experience unfolds. Circular Dimensions combines Cichocki’s conceptual interests with a practice of audio composition, video projection and live-mixed natural sciences, to temporarily activate the already experiential work into a more immersive, multisensory pocket universe.
Sat., April 6, 8:30-10 p.m.; free.
Facebook Event Page.