Desert X, a sprawling outdoor art exhibition in California’s Coachella Valley, returned in its second iteration this week. Its 19 featured artists and collectives are unapologetically taking on timely topics, from indigenous rights to nuclear testing. The widely acclaimed show, made up of site-specific installations by leading contemporary artists, received over 200,000 visitors in its 2017 debut and became a social-media sensation.
This year, stretching over 50 miles, Desert X (which is open to the public through April) places its focus on California’s shrinking Salton Sea, thus bringing environmental issues to the forefront in a region speckled with indelible traces of climate change. And given the show’s proximity to the hotly debated U.S.–Mexico border, commentary on the treacherous landscape, the hope of refugees, and the nature of borders has also become central. Here, we share seven of Desert X 2019’s most compelling works (all dated 2019).