Going Big At Coachella: Artists Re-Define Publiс Space At California’s Most Anticipated Festival

by ZeuCer

Known for its ability to merge art, music, and performance into one immersive environment, setting trends in the process, California’s legendary Coachella festival manages to draw crowds from all over the world. This year’s event took place over two consecutive weekends; Friday, April 14th to Sunday, April 16th and Friday, April 21st to Sunday, April 23rd. Marked by milestones that included both the first Latin American headliner and the first female, Korean headliner, curators scoured the globe for artists, architects, and designers who could transform Empire Polo Field with newly-commissioned, large scale art installations as part of the festival’s art program. Meant to draw attention and simultaneously provide gathering places, the towering works re-define public perception of light, space, and color at dramatic scale, standing as beacons among the crowd and stages. Supported by the festival’s art director, Paul Clemente, the artists were challenged by the festival’s wide open space, desert landscape, daylight and evening visibility to create works that were amongst the largest they’ve created. In Clemente’s words, the pieces speak to a “handbuilt” approach, with the goal of surpassing the expectations of each previous Coachella festival.

Los Angeles – based artist Maggie West, a Los Angeles based artist known for her colorful photo and video art installations, reproduced floral photographs on 20 steel structures covered with wood and vinyl ranging from 6 to 56 feet tall for a work fittingly titled “Eden.” To make this visual experience more sensual, West opted for two color palettes, settling on cool shades for one side of the structures and warm tones for the other. The result was a rumination on detail that invited the audience to stroll through the armatures, look up at, underneath, and around them, and notice the overlooked. Comparing the experience to a day spent within the pages of “Alice in Wonderland,” West emphasizes her decision to introduce projection mapping technology to enhance her photographs. Projecting additional imagery onto the installation at night gave the piece a new, nocturnal dimension that helped it stand out after sundown.

Despite never attending Coachella, Paris-based artist, Vincent Leroy masterfully enriched festival grounds with a piece titled “Molecular Cloud,” a name that captures the abstract, organic forms that make up the installation. Incorporating inflatable spheres that float above the audience, the piece played with motion and the unpredictability of reflection. Each gravity- defying sphere ebbs and flows with the light around it, refusing to be grounded. Leroy, who currently works all over the world, highlighted his interest in motion as a material, especially considering his personal love for music.


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