Archive for December, 2012



Desert living ain’t easy—something the artists and designers who participated in the High Desert Test Sites exhibition this past weekend found out the hard way. For the last eight years, the artist Andrea Zittel has invited a select group of creatives to a 25-acre parcel of land she owns near Joshua Tree in Wyoming to create a series of outdoor installations, and to experience how she lives the other 51 weekends out of the year: the long drives, the wind, the temperature extremes. Because the works are all site-specific, many of them tend to reflect a kind of survivalist mentality, which was certainly true of this year’s fare.

“I think there’s something about the desert that brings that quality out, maybe even instinctively,” says Brooks Hudson Thomas, founder of the now-defunct Specific Merchandise in Los Angeles and one of several guest curators Zittel invited to help mastermind this year’s event, which focused specifically on design and architecture interventions. “Everyone gave me a sense of their relationship to not only the outdoors, but to the environment, materials, and space that seemed to make sense out there,” he says. We asked Thomas to tell us more about three of the works his team was responsible for.

1. ROLU and Welcome Projects
“Here—There, There—Here,” a collaboration between the Minneapolis studio ROLU and Laurel Broughton’s L.A.-based Welcome Projects, is a five-foot-wide piece of white synthetic felt the designers unfurled across two miles of dry river bed known as Coyote Dry Lake, then another two miles up into the mountains. Ten tent-shaped “domestic structures” placed along the way, some as large as five feet tall, doubled as oases where those walking the length of the piece could stop to sit and think or hydrate in before continuing on their trek.