Desert X will open on Saturday throughout the Coachella Valley, but it will be without one of the most highly anticipated installations due to concerns about its effect on bighorn sheep.
New York artist Jenny Holzer’s piece, titled “Before I Became Afraid, 2019,” was planned to project text from gun violence survivors, their family members, and snippets of poetry, onto a 50-foot-high stream bank at the Whitewater Preserve, according to the LA Times. But, after news that a pneumonia virus has killed over two dozen bighorn sheep in the area, the Wildlands Conservancy has withdrawn permission for the project.
Holzer’s pervious works have been shown on buildings, billboards, and vehicles.
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Light the Fight, 2018 Text: "Living Close to the Knives" from Close to the Knives: A Memoir of Disintegration by David Wojnarowicz, © 1991 by David Wojnarowicz. Courtesy the Estate of David Wojnarowicz and PˑPˑOˑW, New York; “Notes on Seroconversion” by Ricardo Hernandez, © 2018 by the author, used with his permission © 2018 Jenny Holzer, member Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY Photo: Daniel Shapiro
The move came as a surprise for Desert X officials, who said they had been working with the Wildlands Conservancy for months leading up to the event. The site was at first allowed to host the installation as it has only small amount of vegetation and very few animals to speak of. But, after reexamining the movement of the bighorn sheep and their proximity to the project, they reconsidered.
“We’re really concerned about the emergency with the bighorn sheep in the area and are respectful of Jack’s request not to hold the event there at this time,” Gil said. “But we’ve been working with Jack and the Wildlands Conservancy for months. Our plans were confirmed, and he’d confirmed the projections wouldn’t be harmful to the environment or wildlife.”
“Before I Became Afraid, 2019” was going to be shown to limited audiences of 150 people six times, 45 minutes each time. Holzer hopes that the project will be realized elsewhere before Desert X ends on April 21.
Desert X begins on Saturday. Get more info here.