Material, Color, Sound and Light: Six Installations from Coachella 2022

After two years of cancellations, the epic Californian event finally returns revealing a series of large-scale installations by 11 creatives from all over the world

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On April 15, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival 2022 opened its doors to the public revealing a series of specially-commissioned, large-scale installations by 11 international designers, architecture and design studios and experimental artists who are working at the forefront of today’s contemporary visual culture in Europe, Latin America, the UK and the United States, including the Coachella Valley.

 

Complex, dynamic and ambitious in scale and design, the site-responsive installations explore a range of pressing topics and global themes surrounding environmental sustainability – from use to re-use, up-cycling to re-cycling, multi-cultural dialogue, immigration, community and exchange, social behavior and architecture, performance and pop culture. The installations span imaginary transformations and reinventions of everyday objects and experiences as fantastical, playful forms and spaces; progressive approaches to structure and material; subtle interplays of light, color and sound, and responses to the geography and topography of the desert landscape, its flora and fauna, temporal shifts from day to night and spectacular sunrises and sunsets. The installations serve as vital navigational markers on the field as gathering points, havens for shelter and respite, and spaces for reflection and contemplation on the Empire Polo Field over two weekends – April 15-17 and April 22-24, 2022.

 

“Building on our art program with designers, architects and visual artists from around the world and from the Coachella Valley allows festival-goers to explore shared global interests and perspectives through the experience of ambitious and one-of-a-kind, large-scale installations,” commented Paul Clemente, who manages the art program for the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. “In the same way music is a universal language, the experience of these new spaces invites connectedness and adds an iconic sense of place in the spirit of the Festival. After two years of planning, finally seeing the works come to fruition and make their way onto the field is very exciting. My hope is that they will surprise, inspire and inform, creating personal memories and serving as lasting beacons for the Festival.”

 

 

Mutts by Oana Stănescu 
We can learn a lot from dogs: joy, lust for life, loyalty, unconditional affection and an endless capacity for interspecies love. The New York–based Romanian architect makes the point with a pack of massive canine sculptures, each in a typical position, creating a dialog and inviting interaction. You can touch the nose of the stretching (downward) dog, walk under the pointer, and rest on the paws of the sitting dog. The striking silhouettes, built with steel frames and filled with a variety of plants - lantana (red, yellow, purple), cassia, fountain grass, yellow bell, jasmine - reduce the dogs to their minimal forms, allowing their expressions to speak through their contours and gestures. You begin to wonder what they’re thinking.

story imageMutts by Oana Stănescu, photo by Lance Gerber, courtesy Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

 

The plants add shagginess to the sculptures while creating a shaded place for gathering. Almost the entire installation is reusable and recyclable. Stănescu, who is known for creating architectural wonderlands incorporating elements of nature, has collaborated with the late Virgil Abloh, Ye and the New Museum in New York. She teaches at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and MIT, and says her dog, a very good boi, is her favorite company. The project collaborators are Ashely Kuo and Mackinley Wang-Xu.

story imageMutts by Oana Stănescu, photo by Lance Gerber, courtesy Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

 

Buoyed by Kiki van Eijk
Three massive buoys, each about four stories tall and angled as if they’re floating in a sea of grass, create a surreal and happy space where everybody belongs regardless of their differences. The Eindhoven, Netherlands–based designer created Buoyed with great optimism for the future. Each of the buoys includes cultural references emphasizing the goodness of diversity and inclusiveness. “It’s about the journey we’re making together in life and at Coachella,” she explains. “When you’re at a festival for a few days, you’re in a bubble, making a journey. Everybody becomes one.”

story imageBuoyed by Kiki Van Eijk, photo by Julian Bajsel, courtesy Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

 

The off-white buoy is the most elegant with its slim neck and 15-foot diameter base. Butterfly wings spread from its shiny steeple and illuminate at night. The blue buoy combines an igloo form with a patchwork dome atop a Dutch-style windmill, and its 18-foot diameter base offers a walk-through passage. The green buoy is the largest, with a 24-foot diameter base whose soft stucco rim allows for comfortable seating. Its cage-like body climbs to a dramatic union dome topped with a plume of palm leaves. Together, the buoys create a fantastical space to meet, interact, and bond. At night, LED lights activate their silhouettes, while the daytime offers a softer experience, like a calm sea. Van Eijk is one of the most accomplished names in Dutch design. She works in a whimsical but rigorous fashion with ceramics, textiles, metal, wood and glass, as well as furniture and lighting design.

story imageBuoyed by Kiki Van Eijk, photo by Lance Gerber, courtesy Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

 

Cocoon (BKF + H300) by Martín Huberman (Estudio Normal)

Designed in Buenos Aires copied in California.

Remember the scene in Close Encounters of the Third Kind when people looked up and marveled at the spaceship as it landed and music was the common language of communication? The Buenos Aires, Argentina–based architect and designer offers a similar experience with his nine-story sculpture constructed with 300 reproductions of the iconic BKF, or as otherwise known worldwide “butterfly,” chair. In Buenos Aires in 1940 three architects — Bonet, Kurchan and Ferrari — designed the original chair, which was added to MoMA's permanent collection a year later. The chair was quickly adopted by popular culture but its true success came through the reproduction of copycats and knock off chairs that spread among projects of the mid-century modern style. Thus the butterfly overtook the BKF and the prominent work of Argentinian design was invisibilized within popular culture.

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Cocoon (BKF + H300) Martín Huberman, photo Lance Gerber, courtesy Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival

 

Huberman has reclaimed the narrative, naming his work Cocoon (BKF+H300) and using the reproductions to complete a structural irony of the mythological origin of a chair that was born out of a cocoon. The stunning architecture, which includes a silky “skin” made of window shade-type material, offers shade during the day and illumination at night. Huberman, known for transforming everyday objects such as clothespins into site-specific public art, combines his experimental design practice Estudio Normal with his work as director of Galería Monoambiente, the first space in Buenos Aires dedicated to experimental architecture and design.

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The Playground by Architensions


In a colorful gesture to bring urbanity to the desert, Architensions, the architectural design and research studio of Alessandro Orsini and Nick Roseboro, presents a fragment of a city — a vertical response to the single-story suburban sprawl in the Coachella Valley. Drawn from research into the history of leisure and focused on human interaction with architecture, the module grid framework encompasses four towers, each ranging from 42 to 56 feet in height and a few linked by skybridges. Each tower features a variety of geometric forms, some with cyan, magenta and yellow dichroic film that bathes the surrounding area in colors as the sun shines through them, and others mirrored to encourage people to interact with them. At night, the mirrors amplify the lighting, performances, and the activity around the structure. The design also

contains cultural references to classical leisure architecture types, such as the arcade and the theater. The centerpiece is the piazza — a 174-by-104-foot public square at the intersection of the towers where people can rest on benches that flank its elevated platform. It’s a place for people to assert their own narrative — otherwise known as the fifth dimension of architecture: the experience.

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Circular Dimensions x Microscape by Cristopher Cichocki
The five-story-tall Circular Dimensions (Microscape), constructed with more than 25,000 feet of PVC tubes, presents a visual spectacle peering into the artist’s ongoing exploration of water and the history of the desert. The bandshell-shaped pavilion contains a laboratory where scientists and artists generate experimental “video paintings” by manipulating water, salt, barnacles, and algae from the Salton Sea under microscopes and projecting the activity in real time inside the pavilion’s “nucleus.”

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Meanwhile, a soundscape of field recordings and industrial rhythms resonates through the structure’s circular tunnels, elevating in intensity from day to night. Cichocki, based in Southern California’s Coachella Valley, creates “new earth art” interventions as well as video and installation works informed by his deep roots as a biomorphic painter. Microscape gives mammoth new context to his familiar materials, including reclaimed irrigation tubing and a “mutant” cast resin aloe vera — “a surviving seed” from the desert’s ancient sea. When the sun goes down, the magnitude of the pavilion amps up with the artist’s ever-evolving audiovisual performance Circular Dimensions.

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La Guardiana by LosDos
La Guardiana towers over the festival grounds wearing an enredo (skirt), a rebozo (shawl) to carry her child, a mask to conceal her identity, and horns to represent strength. She is the guardian of the immigrants from Mexico, Central America, and around the globe. The iconography on her enredo includes people walking and traveling by train and boat toward the border wall — an appeal for an understanding of the reasons that people make the dangerous journey to strange lands. The figure was created by El Paso, Texas-based artists Ramon and Christian Cardenas, aka, LosDos. The husband-and-wife duo is known for creating murals, screenprints, street poster installations, and even a large-scale inflatable sculpture, drawing their characters and ideas from everyday life in El Paso and Juarez, Mexico.

story imageLa Guardiana by LosDos, photo Lance Gerber, courtesy Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

 

Returning to Coachella for a third year is UK art and design studio NEWSUBSTANCE which creates performative, site-specific and temporal works around the world. Their Coachella installation Spectra won The Architect’s Newspaper 2018 Best of Design Award in the Lighting-Outdoor category, as well as a 2018 Gold prize from the International Design Awards. Also featured in this year’s program are returning favorites Do LaB, the Los Angeles-based creative team that reimagines venues, such as this year’s stage Warrior One, as fantastical and interactive experiences inspired by human connection, authenticity, and environmental sustainability, New York artist Robert Bose, the mastermind behind the quarter-mile long kinetic Balloon Chain, Don Kennell, the Santa Fe, New Mexico-based artist, whose monumental animal sculptures, such as BigHorn Sheep/Horse connect audiences through the exploration of nature and community, and after-school artists Raices Cultura from the City of Coachella, who will present Blooming Culture.

story imageLa Guardiana by LosDos, photo Lance Gerber, courtesy Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

 

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Courtesy Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival

 

 

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    References
    Mutts 2

    Mutts

    Indio / United States / 2022

    Buoyed 0

    Buoyed

    Indio / United States / 2022

    Cocoon (BKF + H300) 0

    Cocoon (BKF + H300)

    Indio / United States / 2022

    The Playground 7

    The Playground

    Indio / United States / 2022

    Circular Dimensions x Microscape 0

    Circular Dimensions x Microscape

    Indio / United States / 2022

    La Guardiana 0

    La Guardiana

    Indio / United States / 2022