Desert X installation near Palm Springs tagged by county code enforcement as public nuisance

Organizers of the bi-annual art event said they have been working with the county and believe the code enforcement visit was unnecessary.
A code enforcement notice is taped to the side of one of the containers used in a Desert X installation near Palm Springs. (Photo: George Covino)

If you took an up close and personal look at one of the larger Desert X installations on Tuesday, you may have been confused by some signage that’s on it, courtesy of the county.

Driving the news: Taped to the “Sleeping Figure” installation — a dozen shipping containers stacked at angles on private land near the Interstate 10 exit to Palm Springs — is a notice from Riverside County Code Enforcement ordering their removal because the artwork is unpermitted and allegedly presents a public nuisance.

Yes, but: Desert X organizers said Tuesday evening they have been working with the county, as they do with all government agencies, and believe the code enforcement visit was unnecessary.

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  • “Every city has different permitting regulations,” said Jenny Gil, executive director of Desert X. “Some require temporary use permits. And when they do we work with cities to get those.”

  • In the case of “Sleeping Figure,” she said, “We’ve been working with Riverside County to make sure it’s compliant with regulations on special events,” and because the installation is not permanent and is not designed to draw a large crowd, no special event permit would be needed.

Zoom in: The art “speaks to the crumples and breaks of a supply chain economy in distress,” the Desert X website states, adding that artist Matt Johnson is “renowned for his wry marriages of everyday subjects with raw physical matter.”

  • “Casual and laconic, it overlooks the landscape reminding us that the invisible hand of globalism now connected to its container body has come to rest in the Coachella Valley.”

If you go: To see “Sleeping Figure” in person, take the Interstate 10 exit 110 (Haugen-Lehmann Way) to Railroad Avenue. Details about the 11 other installations located throughout the Coachella Valley, on display through May 7, are available here.


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