As Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival kicks off its 2019 edition today, organizers have also unveiled the striking art program. And while the art may seem to fade into the commotion of the ultra-famous musical headliners—Childish Gambino and Ariana Grande among them—the installations that grace the Empire Polo Club grounds in Indio, California, each year are just as important, setting the aesthetics of the entire festival experience.
The art installations are in the background of nearly every photo, serve up fodder for selfies, and, at times, offer a respite from the crowds. And given the massive exposure that comes with exhibiting at the popular event (2018 saw over 100,000 fairgoers in attendance over two weekends), being featured in Coachella’s art program is a major boon for artists, designers, and architects.
This year’s art lineup includes both newcomers and returning favorites, and artists from both camps agree that showing at Coachella is a career-making moment. “There isn’t another venue in the world that is supporting large-scale art like this,” explained artist Derek Doublin, one half of the duo Dedo Vabo. “And in doing so, they also do something that is really unheard of: They give the artist 100 percent creative freedom.”
Not just supersized sculptures that can endure the physical duress of revelers, these artworks represent opportunities for artists to pursue ambitious projects with ample flexibility, budget, and space. Ahead of the 2019 festival, we caught up with seven artists to learn more about the works they’re showing this year.