Desert X Biennial 2019: Sterling Ruby

This is the first short film in our 12 part series on the 2019 Desert X Biennial in Coachella Valley. The Desert X Biennial is a site-specific contemporary art exhibition for the California desert. Curated by Artistic Director Neville Wakefield and co-curators Amanda Hunt and Matthew Schum, the contemporary art exhibition aims to activate California’s desert landscape through site-specific installations by renowned international contemporary artists. The second iteration features works by Iván Argote, Steve Badgett & Chris Taylor, Nancy Baker Cahill, Cecilia Bengolea, Pia Camil, John Gerrard, Julian Hoeber, Jenny Holzer, Iman Issa, Mary Kelly, Armando Lerma, Eric N. Mack, Cinthia Marcelle, Postcommodity, Cara Romero, Sterling Ruby, Kathleen Ryan, Gary Simmons and Superflex. The Desert X Biennial runs Feb. 9 – April 21, 2019.

VernissageTV had a look at some of the works, including Sterling Ruby’s piece with the title “Specter”. It’s a fluorescent orange monolith located at Snowcreek Canyon Road, Whitewater. This is what the press text says about the artwork:

Sterling Ruby’s fluorescent orange monolith, “Specter”, appears as an apparition in the desert. The bright, geometric sculpture creates a jarring optical illusion, resembling a Photoshopped composite or collage, as if something has been removed or erased from the landscape. The block acts as a cipher or stand-in, mimicking the form it could be — a shipping container, a military bunker, an unidentified object, an abandoned home-stead. Fluorescent orange is traditionally used for safety, as a warning. Here that logic is reversed: a ghostly object, set apart from the natural environment, hiding in plain sight.

Sterling Ruby (American/Dutch, born 1972) is a Los Angeles–based artist who utilizes an extreme variety of media, producing work ranging from pristine to defaced, minimal to chaotic. He frequently employs graffiti and craft techniques and addresses myriad topics such as violence, psychology, Americana, autobiography, and political and societal pressures. His projects are often presented as seemingly vandalized, synthesizing the control of the artist’s studio with an appearance of ruin to merge the two facets into an aesthetic harmony.

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