Joshua Treenial artists:
Carl Berg & Cecilia Miniucchi: Icefornia // At first glance, the surface features of Iceland and Joshua Tree could not be more different. But under the mossy greenery of Iceland’s hills and valleys Cecilia Miniucchi and Carl Berg see striking similarities to the Mojave Desert. They offer a parallax view of these two landscapes through light boxes, each displaying side-by-side photographs of the two ecosystems. Reminiscent of those telescopic viewers once popular at tourist attractions, these light boxes provide an impossible yet somehow real view across a continent and an ocean. Both artists are based in Los Angeles. Originally from Rome, Miniucchi’s photography, video and performances create a rich texture that is neither Italian nor purely American. Berg is a conceptual artist, working in multiple mediums, and a curator who often works in collaboration with other artists. His work has been widely exhibited including exhibitions in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Berlin, Rotterdam and Oslo.
Johan Urban Bergquist // Bergquist is an Oslo-based artist who works with drawing, sound art, performance, installations and sculpture. For the Treenial he performs in downtown Joshua Tree’s Art Queen as his alter ego Count Pukebeard. The references in Bergquist’s works are many and disparate, exploring alternative realities and states of mind. Themes include: dreams, mysticism, occultism, supernatural and unexplained phenomena, alchemy and more. His performances are improvised, non-linear and surreal. Bergquist maintains that as Pukebeard “the superego has long since lost control and the subconscious now controls his actions and choices.”
Ryan Campbell: Chamber 2 // Coachella Valley-based artist Ryan Campbell’s current work is an ongoing series of Line Segments: groupings of hard edged layered bands of color that intertwine to create abstract and geometric patterns. For the Treenial, Campbell has produced a sculpture lined with gold leaf that serves as an energy-focusing sacred chamber. Guests are invited to enter barefoot for a grounding experience of the earth’s energy, conducive to meditation and healing. Campbell is a self-taught artist, and also a muralist with several commissions to his credit. His work has is included in important collections, including the Cheech Marin and Cargill and Donna MacMillan Collections.
Anibal Catalan: Suprematist Garden // Through large-scale abstract constructions in the desert, Catalan harks back to the Suprematist ideals of the early twentieth century. Suprematism, founded by the Russian Kazimir Malevich, sought pure abstraction in both visual and literary forms. Catalan brings this quest to the landscape: “The aesthetic of the units will be a direct reference to the Suprematist avant garde movement but also as a form of understanding the Parallax concept or the idea of point of view, the interpretation of location and the understanding the abstract nature of space and land.” Catalan studied fine arts at ENPEG “La Esmeralda” and attended the School of Architecture at Anahuac University. He iives and works in Mexico City.
Rachel Dagnall: Rock Concert // Oslo-based Dagnall unleashes the sonic energies lying dormant for eons in the geology of Joshua Tree. The sounds made by live performers striking the rocks are then recorded and looped electronically, filtered by software to create a varied tonal range. While parallax is usually associated with vision, Dagnall’s installation brings an auditory dimension to the concept. Educated in Glasgow and Oslo, Dagnall works in sculpture, drawing and film and makes a range of installation and performative works for exhibitions and commissions. She served for five years on the board of the National Association of Norwegian Sculptors,
Jeff Frost: California on Fire – The Natural Readymade (Ghosts of Objects in Aluminum) // After training as a firefighter, Jeff Frost gained unique access and perspective on the firefighting experience. His resulting film, California on Fire, has recently been screened alongside Desert X 2019. Frost describes the sculptures on view in the Joshua Treenial as “protest art created by nature itself, in rebellion against humanity.” They consist of molten metal objects salvaged from the ashes of the California fires, then refined and polished by the artist to “add elements of interactivity and ambiguity.” Frost works in multiple mediums and his many credits include a commission for visual content for a U2 tour and multiple exhibitions and and speaking engagements.
Séverin Guelpa: Supermarket // Guelpa’s work focuses on social and economic issues linked to land and its resources. For the Joshua Treenial, he references Native American culture and the centrality of clay to civilization. His installation combines small and large sculptures inspired by Native American pottery, accompanied by documentation on the role that land and clay play today in indigenous communities. The work is intended to be a bridge between the past, present, and future. Geneva-based Guelpa is the founder of the artist collective MATZA, which brings together communities of artists and scientists to work on concrete problems in specific locations, one being the Mojave Desert.
Mary Addison Hackett: The Tender // Since moving to Joshua Tree a year ago, Atlanta-born Hackett has been monitoring her progress as she learns to adapt to this environment. Using dead flora and human artifacts found on her property she constructed “ground nests” that function as habitats for desert creatures. The Tender is a series of short vignettes, sometimes humorous and sometimes poetic, documenting her adaptation to the desert and housed in a “nest”. Hackett works primarily in painting and film/video and has exhibited in New York, Los Angeles, Berlin, Prague and Rome. She holds an MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Samantha Harris & Almond Zigmund: In Its Shadow // This collaboration represents a true fusion of nature and art. Harris is trained as an artist and botanist and has her masters in landscape architecture from Harvard, while Zigmund holds an MFA from UNLV and has been exhibited internationally for two decades. Their collaboration celebrates the ubiquitous creosote, which flourishes almost unregarded in the shadow of the showy Joshua tree. Creosotes clone from a vast hidden root system, so even a young sprout may actually be an offshoot of a plant that is hundreds of years old. Their work here celebrates “the enduring and sustaining bond the Creosote has secured with the elements.”
Adriene Jenik & Dominic Miller Your Climate Future // Since November 2017, Adriene Jenik has been offering free “climate future readings” in public settings utilizing her original ECOtarot cards. The cards are derived from artwork printed on handmade, plant-based paper (agave and recycled cotton and linen), and hand-painted with natural pigments. At the Joshua Treenial, a sound-emitting sculpture by Dominic Miller serves as a beacon to lead audience members toward the rocky cave where Jenik offers her readings. The sounds include readings, music, and climatic events (storms, etc.) which serve to provide a socio-cultural context for the readings, and create a multi-vocal and site specific event. Jenik is an artist and educator who resides in the CA high desert. Her computer and media art spans three decades and includes pioneering work in interactive cinema. Miller is a visual artist and former US Fulbright research fellow based in Desert Hot Spring and has exhibited in New York, Mexico City, Scottsdale, and Los Angeles.
Mathias Kessler: Sunset in Simulacrum 03 // Austrian-born, New York-based Mathias Kessler critiques and reimagines the concept of nature by re-staging representations of the natural world with an eye to art history and a sense of humor. His goal of amplifying the idea of “nature as an escape” is on display in the Joshua Treenial with Sunset in Simulacrum 03. “Unable to truly copy nature that has been exploited and exoticized for so long,” Kessler writes, the artist instead “gives us the image of our desire,” presenting a vivid interpretation of Paradise in Parallax. Kessler holds and MFA from SVA and has had solo exhibitions at the Kunsthal Rotterdam; Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art; Palmengarten Frankfurt, Germany; and several other prestigious institutions.
Angus McCullough // McCullough’s residency at BoxoPROJECTS in 2016 delved into the nature of synchronized time and its roots in the railroad system. His 2019 Treenial project looks at time from an alternative angle, focusing on the processes of the mind, and the difficulties in mapping subconscious experiences. Viewers navigating his interactive walking tour will hear snippets of dreams, directions (possibly absurd ones), and perhaps moments of deja vu. Brooklyn-born McCullough is an artist, designer and musician whose work integrates a closeness to materials, intuition, and deep theoretical inquiry of time and space. He currently lives and works in between Vermont and California.
Paloma Menéndez // Mérida-based Paloma Menéndez is an artist and educator whose work explores space and place through painting and drawing, conveying the geographical features of landscape as well as alternative ones derived from her imagination. In paintings shown at the Joshua Treenial, Menéndez inserts elements and characters from real life or fairy tales to combine nature, real and fictional, the present and the past to achieve a true parallax of Paradise. Born in Mexico City, she attended La Esmeralda from 1985 to 1990. Her work has been shown in Mexico, United States, Germany, Austria, and France. Since 2009 she has held a faculty position at Escuela Superior de Artes de Yucatán.
Michael Petry: The Pool of Narcissus // Like finding water in the desert, finding true love is a rare and paradisical event. But finding both simultaneously can be disastrous, as Narcissus was to learn. Long fascinated with the intersection of art and eros, Michael Petry brings this cautionary tale to the Joshua Treenial. Petry has had a distinguished career as artist, author, and curator. Recent solo shows include: A Twist in Time, at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (2016) and In the Realm of the Gods, at the Holburne Museum, Bath 2017/8. Originally from Texas, Petry is now based in London.
Per Platou // Platou brings his three dimensional sound installation to the Integratron, the acoustically unique dome in Landers famous for its healing sound baths. This 20 minute live mixed performance utilizes moving ultrasonic (hyperdirectional) loudspeakers, with the sonic content composed for the Integratron’s singular history. The structure was built by aerospace engineer George Van Tassel, who claimed that he based its energy-focusing properties on information received from extraterrestrials. Platou, based in Oslo and Landers, works with electronic media, sound art, radio, film and theater. He is currently directing the Norwegian Video Art Archive.
Sabine Reckewell: Branching Out // German-born Sabine Reckewell uses her background in industrial and textile design to create sculptures out of colorful webbing that integrate into the landscape. They are created on site rather than conceived in a studio, and thus serve as a spontaneous and improvised dialogue with the environment. A resident of Napa, her work has been shown at the San Francisco Arts Commission, the Berkeley Art Center, Sonoma State University Art Gallery, the Sonoma Art Museum in Santa Rosa and the Museum of Quilts and Textiles in San Jose among others.
Aili Schmeltz: Object/Window/Both/Neither // Schmeltz presents a continuation of her Object/Window/Both/Neither series, exploring negative space in the landscape. The 8-foot diameter black disc mounted in the rocks provides a visual breath or pause in the landscape, thus quieting the desert’s assertive presence. In the give-and-take between the harsh environment and the human presence, the artist offers these works as a “more compassionate way to negotiate.” Based in Los Angeles, Schmeltz has shown throughout California, New York, and Europe. She is the current Founder and Director of Outpost Projects and former Co-Founder of Los Angeles Art Resource.
Lewis deSoto: Tired of Eternity // As a Cahuilla artist born in San Bernardino, deSoto showcases his heritage (and upcoming book) in the performance piece Tired of Eternity, a conversation with Coyote. Performing as Coyote, the legendary desert trickster, deSoto discusses and reads excerpts from his new book, Tired of Eternity, to be published by Sotolux Press. In a live performance on three days, guest hosts will question Coyote on many topics including the notion of eternity, the future of humanity and Coyote’s role in human history. A video will be available online. An author, photographer and artist, deSoto teaches art at San Francisco State and has shown widely including recently at U.C. Riverside’s California Museum of Photography and at LACMA.
Benjamin Stanwix: one (borrowed landscape) // The desert landscape presents us with a visual geological record dating back millions of years. South African artist Benjamin Stanwix uses art as a tool to probe the ways in which we make sense of the past, with a particular interest in contradictions and distortions as spaces for productive engagement. one (borrowed landscape) is a depiction in fabric of the local landscape as seen on the digitized platform of Google Earth viewed 9,861 miles away. This image was captured at the moment of a platform glitch, an artifact of the reality versus the promise of technology-driven paradise. Prior to completing a Post-graduate Diploma in Fine Art at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town, Stanwix studied history and economics at the University of Oxford.He completed a residency at BoxoPROJECTS in December 2018.
Ivan Wong: v=331m/s+0.6T // The Integratron is an acoustic Paradise, a wooden dome constructed without nails. Originally designed by aerospace engineer George Van Tassel to channel rejuvenating electrostatic energy, the healing powers of the Integratron’s sound baths draw thousands of visitors to this desert outpost. Wong’s sound installation, whose title references the speed of sound in dry air, includes recorded sounds and acoustic instrumentation, vocals, synthetic reproduction and the acoustics of the environment in which it is performed. The piece is augmented by live sound manipulation via a soundboard, so each 15-minute performance is unique. New York-based Wong is an artist, musician, and composer whose works have been exhibited/performed on both coasts. He is also an accomplished publisher of art books. Wong holds a BFA in painting from UCLA.