Jan 12, 2016
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Coachella Promises the Largest Most Expansive Art Installations in Its History

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The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which kicks off April 15 and will run over two consecutive weekends, has announced a massive visual arts lineup for this year’s festivities.

In recent years the event organizer, Goldenvoice, has made a concerted effort to put greater emphasis on the “arts” part of the festival. (Come 2017, Coachella will launch Desert X, its sister art biennial, with involvement from Ed Ruscha, collector Beth Rudin DeWoody, and curator Neville Wakefield, who will serve as artistic director.)

 Paul Clemente, the festival’s art director, said visitors can expect larger, more expensive and more ambitious installations than ever before.

“We don’t do anything on a human scale, or even at twice human scale,” Clemente told the Los Angeles Times. “We’re at the absolute limits of what we can fabricate, what we can physically move onto the field. We want visual impact that hits you from hundreds of feet away.”

The popular festival has put greater emphasis on the visual arts in recent years. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The popular festival has put greater emphasis on the visual arts in recent years.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Palm Desert-based artist Phillip K. Smith III is returning this year after the success of his illuminated, mirrored towers—this year, however, the artist will incorporate elements of light, space, and movement into his work. Also returning is the artist duo Date Farmers (Armando Lerma and Carlos Ramirez), who will reportedly show a colorful 30-foot sculpturedepicting Lerma’s late cousin.

Clemente travelled the world to look for new talent to add an element of surprise to this year’s festival. He scouted artists at events including the Venice Biennale, the Havana Biennial, and Art Basel in Miami Beach. “It’s important to bring ideas, outside from out immediate environment, into the world of our fans,” he explained.

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After seeing their work at the 2015 Venice Biennale, Clemente commissioned the Latvian artists Katrina Neiburga and Andris Eglitis to create a piece incorporating reclaimed wood and video projections.

In Cuba, he discovered artist Alexandre Arrechea and commissioned him to make a 50-foot, 140,000-pound sculptural installation to raise awareness of greenhouse gases and rising sea levels.

Coachella organizers have previously been criticized for not treating visual artists equally to musical artists. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Coachella organizers have previously been criticized for not treating visual artists equally to musical artists.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Clemente wouldn’t divulge details about the work commissioned from the Taiwan-born LA-based artist Jimenez Lai, but described it as “a complex architectural form,” and said it was “the largest single thing we’ve ever moved out here.”

Meanwhile, Argentinian artist duo R&R Studios (Roberto Behar and Rosario Marquardt) have created a work which depicts “an undeniable message of love,” the art director said, predicting that work by the Miami-based artists will be among the most popular with Coachella’s visitors.

Despite the popularity of visual art, organizers of the festival—which is taking place now for the 16th consecutive year—have previously been forced to defend themselves regarding their approach to artists. Disgruntled participants have complained that they have been denied access to “the places potential collectors might be,” such as VIP or backstage areas or parties, as one anonymous artist told LA Weekly.

We’ll see if the international slate of artists participating this year are happier with the results.

To Learn More about the art installation line up visit: coachella.com

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