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Four must-see art installations at Coachella 2023

United States Architecture News - Apr 19, 2023 - 10:04   2399 views

Four must-see art installations at Coachella 2023

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival 2023 has returned to the Colorado desert with playful, iconic and gigantic artworks that activate the landscape in California, United States.

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, known as the United State’s best annual music festival, alongside its tremendous musical performances, also attracts great attention with its immersive artworks that mark the landscape.  

Over two weekends, April 14–16 and April 21–23, 2023, nine international artists, designers and collectives, alongside newly-commissioned artists, Kumkum Fernando, Vincent Leroy, Güvenç Özel and Maggie West, will turn the deserted landscape into a spectacle with scale, color, light and texture. 

Besides the four newly-commisisoned artists, UK-based art and design studio NEWSUBSTANCE has returned to festival for the fourth year with Spectra, a seven-floor architecturally-inspired pavilion, Robert Bose’s quarter-mile long kinetic Balloon Chain and Don Kennell's Mustang will be at this year's festival. 

"Some of the works have been woven into the archetypal imagery of Coachella"

Paul Clemente, who manages the art program for the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, said that "surprise encounters with these outsized projects in the middle of the valley, surrounded by music and the collective energy of the crowd has become a much-anticipated shared experience at the Festival, and some of the works have been woven into the archetypal imagery of Coachella."

"Extraordinary and thoughtful works"

According to Celemente, this year's installations can "inspire, inform, and invite direct engagement" with large-scale artworks that can also explore "current social and cultural themes and ideas".

"The arts program has evolved significantly since inception and the participants, who come from around the world and from Southern California are well-respected in their fields, presenting extraordinary and thoughtful works in a setting where they can inspire, inform, and invite direct engagement with art and current social and cultural themes and ideas." 

"It is a unique aspect of this Festival, and we really endeavor to carry that spark into the community with adjacent school programs and our on-site Coachella Arts Studios," Clemente added.

For those who are not able to go to the Coachella 2023 festival, here're the 4 must-see art installations with the descriptions by the artists:


Four must-see art installations at Coachella 2023

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival 2023 installation view of Güvenç Özel, Holoflux. Image © Lance Gerber, courtesy Coachella

Four must-see art installations at Coachella 2023

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival 2023 installation view of Güvenç Özel, Holoflux. Image © Lance Gerber, courtesy Coachella

Four must-see art installations at Coachella 2023

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival 2023 installation view of Güvenç Özel, Holoflux. Image © Lance Gerber, courtesy Coachella

Four must-see art installations at Coachella 2023

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival 2023 installation view of Güvenç Özel, Holoflux. Image © Lance Gerber, courtesy Coachella

Holoflux by Güvenç Özel

Los Angeles–based artist and architect Güvenç Özel has created a 60-foot-tall (18.2-meter) structure that engages the spectrum of human experience, from the physical to the virtual.

Called Holoflux, the twisted-form installation acts as a portal to a broad digital ecosystem of ever-changing forms that you experience throughout the day. At night, through its reflective surfaces, the spherical form turns into lighting features, pulsating bright colors rather than reflecting the environment.

Özel describes the artwork as "a hypermedia" object that reflects lights, projections, graphics, and changing color schemes that cycle through different identities. From a distance, it appears as a sculpture; but as you appraoch, it becomes architecture. At nights, Holofux is encapsulated by nighttime projections of real-time video, showing the festival action create an effect in which the sculpture appears to become invisible, and then reappears.

"Cyber physical, meaning the work covers cyberspace and physical environments and the interaction between the two," said Güvenç Özel. 

"Critical technologist, meaning engaging with new technological tools — their meaning, their impact in our social interactions, their impact on our environmental and political considerations, and how we can create more meaningful and engaging experiences to enhance the way that we socialize and communicate with each other," Özel added.

Four must-see art installations at Coachella 2023

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival 2023 installation view of Kumkum Fernando, The Messengers. Image © Lance Gerber, courtesy Coachella

Four must-see art installations at Coachella 2023

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival 2023 installation view of Kumkum Fernando, The Messengers. Image © Lance Gerber, courtesy Coachella

Four must-see art installations at Coachella 2023

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival 2023 installation view of Kumkum Fernando, The Messengers. Image © Lance Gerber, courtesy Coachella

Four must-see art installations at Coachella 2023

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival 2023 installation view of Kumkum Fernando, The Messengers. Image © Lance Gerber, courtesy Coachella

The Messengers by Kumkum Fernando

The Sri Lankan artist Kumkum Fernando, who lives and works in Vietnam, has created three monolithic figures, appearing on the desert like "giant robots or action figures."

Inspired by the vivid colors of South Asian art and architecture, particularly Tibetan and Hindu temples, as well as from folk tales filled with gods and demons that resonate from his youth, the three gigantic sculptures measure between 65 feet (19 meters) and 80 feet (24 meters) - roughly seven stories high.

Aiming to create a colorful gathering place, the artist arranged the artworks in a row to reflect like "packed volumes of meaning into their larger-than-life forms."

Each figure is raised on a plinth that has a base of steps that "welcome visitors to gather and sit around the idols, which like the studio-scale version are each accompanied by a poem written by Fernando." At night, spotlights illuminate the figures.

"Whenever I travel, I collect and document," said Kumkum Fernando. "I have a library that I go through at different points in time. When I put them together, I often see unexpected things. I made a series of work completely out of window grills, another series from patterns from Persian rugs, and another from temple patterns. One day, I was arranging objects, and they appeared to form a figure. Then I thought I should make figures with these patterns."

"People refer to my artworks as robots because they have a very robotic form," Fernando explained. "To be fair, at first, most of them were meant to be robots from other dimensions, but now it’s more of a story to me. Each figure means something a bit more. I refer to them as ‘idols’ because they represent something that is important to me," he added.

Four must-see art installations at Coachella 2023

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival 2023 installation view of Vincent Leroy, Molecular Cloud. Image © Lance Gerber, courtesy Coachella

Four must-see art installations at Coachella 2023

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival 2023 installation view of Vincent Leroy, Molecular Cloud. Image © Lance Gerber, courtesy Coachella

Four must-see art installations at Coachella 2023

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival 2023 installation view of Vincent Leroy, Molecular Cloud. Image © Lance Gerber, courtesy Coachella

Four must-see art installations at Coachella 2023

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival 2023 installation view of Vincent Leroy, Molecular Cloud. Image © Lance Gerber, courtesy Coachella

Molecular Cloud by Vincent Leroy

Paris-based French artist Vincent Leroy has created a group of molecular clouds in the form of light. The bold, pink-colored glossy inflatable objects floating above the vast green field of the festival. 

The glossy clouds are attached to a steel structure and when they come together, the obejcts created the form a cloud. As you move closer to the massive mobiles, the ground, people, and sky appear in Molecular Cloud’s reflective surfaces in a phantasmagorical spectacle that plays with your perception and detaches you from reality.

Leroy, who oscillates between the real (natural) and virtual (artificial), is interested in experimenting with the phenomena of perception. Movement is almost always his focus — the kind of movement, he says, that “inspires life, amazement, and a permanently shifting viewpoint.”

Leroy slows this movement to uncover and magnify the gaps that often go unnoticed in today’s frenetic pace and performance. With Molecular Cloud, ripples, reflections, superimpositions, and the play of light plunge us into another dimension — light and airy, dreamlike, and meditative.

Four must-see art installations at Coachella 2023

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival 2023 installation view of Maggie West, Eden. Image © Lance Gerber, courtesy Coachella

Four must-see art installations at Coachella 2023

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival 2023 installation view of Maggie West, Eden. Image © Lance Gerber, courtesy Coachella

Four must-see art installations at Coachella 2023

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival 2023 installation view of Maggie West, Eden. Image © Lance Gerber, courtesy Coachella

Four must-see art installations at Coachella 2023

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival 2023 installation view of Maggie West, Eden. Image © Lance Gerber, courtesy Coachella

Eden by Maggie West

Los Angeles-based artist Maggie West has created 20 steel large-scale floral figures, creating one of the world’s largest 3-D photography installations. 

The artist reproduced her floral photographs, each covered with wood and vinyl, ranging from 6 to 56 feet tall (2 to 17 meters). To create Eden, the artist photographed a variety of plants, each in two color schemes: warm (a combination of peach, gold, white, or pink) and cool (shades of blue, teal, indigo and lavender). For reproduction, West used lighting, not Photoshop, to color her photograph. 

Color is an indispensable element in West's works. "I love to capture elements of the natural world within artificial environments," said West. “Color is a powerful piece of our perception of the world."

"By photographing familiar objects with multicolored lights, my work helps viewers look closer at some of the nature they might take for granted — like the texture of the snake plants and the stamens in the centers of the lilies," she added. 

The high-resolution images appear on vinyl sheets, the warm palette on one side of each sculpture and the cool palette on the other. After dark, the sculpture comes alive with mapped projections onto the sculptures that create a vibrant light show that adds an extra colorful dimension to these already vibrant images.

Top image: Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival 2023 installation view of Güvenç Özel, Holoflux. Image © Lance Gerber, courtesy Coachella.

All images © Lance Gerber, courtesy Coachella.

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