Arab artists Ghada Amer and Zahrah Alghamdi exhibit work at Desert X in California

The exhibition brings the work of 13 artists from the US and around the world

epa09069219 Visitors look at the art installation 'What Lies Behind the Walls' by Saudi Arabian artist Zahrah Alghamdi, displayed as part of the Desert X exhibition near Palm Springs, California, USA, 11 March 2021. The Exhibition runs from 12 March to 16 May 2021.  EPA/ETIENNE LAURENT
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Desert X, the site-specific, contemporary art exhibition held in the Coachella Valley in southern California, opened on Friday with the work of 13 artists for its third event.

Curated by Cesar Garcia-Alvarez and Neville Wakefield, the exhibition was scheduled to begin in February but was delayed because of the pandemic.

This year, the exhibition explores the desert as a place and idea, taking into account the political, social and cultural contexts that shape the stories of people who reside there.

Among those commissioned to take part is Saudi Arabian artist Zahrah Al Ghamdi, whose work involves large accumulations of material.

Her installation, titled What Lies Behind the Walls, is a monolithic wall made of 6,000 tiles containing cement, dyes and soil specific to the Coachella Valley and her homeland

Visitors are encouraged to walk around the structure, which draws links between the desert of Saudi Arabia and that of the California valley.

Al Ghamdi, who represented Saudi Arabia at the 2019 Venice Biennale and participated in Desert X AlUla last year, was inspired by what happened at the US-Mexico border during Donald Trump's presidency.

"There should never be walls in between people, in between countries," Al Ghamdi told Reuters. "I took it as a sign that I have to create a wall that shows our similarities and how we can join as a culture and not separate from each other."

Egyptian artist Ghada Amer who is based in New York continues her Women's Qualities work, for which she asked people in the Coachella Valley to share words that describe the quality they identify with. The result is a group of words that have been arranged in the form of a circle at Sunnylands Centre and Gardens. The piece will be on view until Sunday, June 6.

epa09070650 An aerial picture of an art installation entitled 'Women's Qualities' by Ghada Amer, and reading 'Loving Nuturing Resilient Strong Caring Determined Beautiful' displayed during the Desert X exhibition near Palm Springs, California, USA, 11 March 2021 (issued 12 March 2021). The exhibition runs from 12 March to 16 May.  EPA/ETIENNE LAURENT
An aerial view Ghada Amer's 'Women's Qualities' at the Desert X exhibition in the Coachella Valley, near Palm Springs, California. EPA

The work features the words loving, nurturing, resilient, strong, caring, determined and beautiful.

It has been described by the organisers as a "meeting place where artist and community, aesthetics and ideology, nature and culture come together for reflection and contemplation."

The exhibition line-up also includes artists Felipe Baeza from Mexico, Serge Attukwei Clottey from Ghana, Alicja Kwade from Poland, Oscar Murillo from Colombia, and Vivian Suter from Argentina. Among artists from the US are Judy Chicago, Nicholas Galanin, Christopher Myers, Eduardo Sarabia (who lives in Mexico), Xaviera Simmons and Kim Stringfellow.

Desert X 2021, which opened on Friday, March 12, runs until Sunday, May 16. More information is available at the Desert X website here