“X” Marks the Spot

Desert X biennial is back every spring. This immersive outdoor art exhibition features massive, site-specific art installations at various desert locations throughout the Coachella Valley, from Palm Springs to the Salton Sea. Visitors to Desert X often describe it as a self-guided outdoor experience or a treasure hunt where finding and interacting with the art is part of the fun. All you need is a car, a site map, and a sense of adventure. Intrigued?

The first Desert X exhibition opened in 2017 to international acclaim. Sixteen artists created surprising outdoor and indoor art installations at various desert locations from Whitewater Preserve to Coachella. Since that time, the biennial has expanded south to include locations around the Salton Sea. Every Desert X features all-new provocative installations based around a theme, often amplifying global and local issues ranging from climate change to Tribal culture, tourism, and immigration. The curators ask visitors to “be brave, engage their sense of adventure, and open their hearts as they seek the various art installations, paying attention not only to their physicality but also to the stories they tell: emotionally, historically, or socially.”

Desert X generally runs from March through May. Each of the eleven outdoor installations is free to visit and usually open to the general public from sunrise to sunset. Maps and programs are available on the Desert X website or download the free Desert X app. Desert X encourages visitors to follow official Leave No Trace guidelines: 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. There are no public restrooms. Make a day of it and visit all the locations, or just pick a few … it’s your adventure!

Once the biennial closes, the Desert X Map page is usually kept up-to-date with current locations for any installations that remain on view. So even when the biennial is on hiatus, you can still experience the desert through the lens of Desert X.