Desert X is back! It’s going on NOW until May 16th. What is Desert X? It’s an event where the Coachella Valley turns into an outdoor art experience. It’s one of the best art events in California. The organization was founded on the love of contemporary art. And this event happens every other year ever since 2017 when the famous Desert X mirror house made its debut. If you’re planning to visit check out this guide.
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Desert X: Everything You Need to Know
It’s back! Desert X 2021 is happening now and this what you need to know…
The Basics | Desert X 2021
When: Wondering when is Desert X? It’s happening every day from March 12 – May 16. However not all art installations are open every day. And some have specific hours depending on their location.
Where: If you’re wondering where is Desert X it’s in various locations throughout the Coachella Valley. There are various installations and they’re all miles apart. Download the app to view the map, the exact coordinates, and more on your mobile device, or check out the Desert X map here.
Opening Hours: Each art installation has different opening hours. For more information on each art installation, see below.
How Much: There is no admission fee. Desert X is free to visit but if you’d like to donate you can do so here.
Desert X 2021 Art Installations
What Lies Behind the Walls
What Lies Behind the Walls by Zahrah Alghamdi is a monolithic wall made of stacked forms. From the parking lot (or street) you’ll take a short walk to the installation. You can visit this from sunrise to sundown. The area will not be lit otherwise.
ParaPivot (Sempiternal Clouds)
ParaPivot (Sempiternal Clouds) by Alicja Kwade is located on the top of a hill. There is a paved driveway you will walk but it is quite steep. The installation is a bit of an optical illusion. Take your time to stand at a distance and walk around the interlocking frames.
Please note that because Desert X is busier on the weekend days you’ll need a timed-entry reservation. If you’re visiting Thursday – Sunday get your timed-entry reservation here. This installation is open to the public every day from 10 am – 5 pm.
Because You Know Ultimately We Will Band A Militia
Because You Know Ultimately We Will Band A Militia by Xaviera Simmons is a series of billboards along the Gene Autry Trail between Via Escuela and the 10 Freeway. This is on view 24/7 but it’s best to see it when it’s well lit. If you’re following the coordinates or map via the app be on the lookout as you’re approaching.
Women’s Qualities by Ghada Amer is a grouping of words arranged in a circular pattern at the Great Lawn inside Sunnylands. It’s on display Wednesday – Sunday from 8 am – 4 pm.
The Passenger by Eduardo Sarabia is a maze that pays tribute to desert migrations. You’ll need a timed-entry reservation if you’re visiting Thursday – Sunday. Get your reservation here. The installation is open every day however hours are unclear. The time-entry tickets however are only from 10 am – 5 pm.
Jackrabbit Homestead by Kim Stringfellow is a small tract home that made the desert accessible to a new demographic in the 1950s. Take a peek inside through the glass windows and stick around for the audio. This installation is on display next to the Palm Desert Chamber of Commerce inside the parking lot and can be viewed from sunrise to sundown each day.
Tammanrasset by Vivian Suter is an installation of large-scale abstract paintings. Her art is on display inside a buffing on the heart of Palm Springs and is on view 24/7. It’s well lit so it can be visited after dark as well.
The North Face x Gucci Pit Stop
The North Face x Gucci Pit Stop is a capsule collaboration. The stop is a dome tent with The North Face x Gucci logo. This isn’t one of the art installations but it is a part of Desert X and super close to Tammanrasset (above).
Never Forget by Nicholas Galanin brings attention to the Landback movement, which aims to give land back to Indigenous people. It’s located next to the Palm Springs Ariel Tram and not far from the Palm Springs windmills and is on view from sunrise to sundown.
The Wishing Well
The Wishing Well by Serge Attukwei Clottey symbolizes the trek that countries like Ghana must take for clean water. It’s on view from sunrise to sundown.
Other Desert X Installations
There are two more installations by Felipe Baeza and Christopher Myers that will be on display after April 9th.
Judy Chicago will not be participating this year. There is no update on Oscar Murillo but the information will be on the Desert X website.
Tips For Visiting Desert X
Download the App!
There’s an official Desert X app and it has all the coordinates and it’ll even link to your maps. The app also has info on the hours you can visit that specific installation.
Learn About The Artists
The app has info on each piece and the artist. There are signs at each location but I encourage you to check out the app and if a certain installation speaks to you follow the artist on Instagram.
Map Out Your Stops
Take a look at the map on the app to decide how you want to start your journey. You can visit all in a day but it will be a jack-packed day. If you have a weekend or more split it up and check out other gems in the Coachella Valley. The art installations are listed in the order where it’s easy to loop around. You can also visit in a reverse loop.
Pack some snacks and water for your drive. You’ll visit some remote areas and while you’ll never be too far from a nearby restaurant or cafe, it’s good to have something you can snack on between stops.
On that same note, there are no public restrooms at any of the Desert X sites. Make stop accordingly and don’t forget to bring sanitizer!
Make Reservations If You’re Dining Out
If you’re planning to dine in the Greater Palm Springs area make a reservation in advance. Downtown Palm Springs has lots of great restaurants but capacity is limited so ensure you get a seat with a reservation.
Where to Stay
If you’re wondering how much time you need to visit Desert X it’s possible to visit all the art installations in one full day. However, it’s recommended to stretch it out over a couple of days. This also gives you a chance to check out the surrounding area and enjoy the desert.
I recommend staying in the Greater Palm Springs area. You’ll be central to most of the art installations and there are more accommodations, restaurants, and more. There are a variety of hotels and house rentals.
Here are my recommendations:
Parker Palm Springs – book with Agoda
If you’re flying into Palm Spring (PSP) check out RentalCars.com for affordable rental cars. This is the closest airport but you can also opt to fly into Los Angeles (LAX) or San Diego (SAN) which are both about two hours away.
If you’re planning on visiting the surrounding area, Joshua Tree National Park is about one hour away. If you have an extra day or two you can visit the park.
Enjoy your visit!
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