Breaking News: Land Art at Desert X | Frontline: Predator | 12M Fakes

This week, the second edition of the biennial opened under the dual themes of politics and poetics, with works that engaged with environmental catastrophes, mass migration, Indigenous rights, and architectural and industrial colonization.


The curators are a group of young, energetic curators from distinct backgrounds and points of views. The artistic director Neville Wakefield is an art star known for his work in performance, site installations, and partnerships with fashion brands such as Supreme, Nike, and Calvin Klein. The biennial’s executive director, Jenny Gil, who is from Spain, formerly worked for Faena. The curator Amanda Hunt recently worked at the Studio Museum before joining MOCA. The LA-based writer and curator Matthew Schum was informed by his doctoral research on site-specific happenings, including the Istanbul Biennial. They have selected a broad group of artists of diverse nationalities, ages, and practices, supporting the conception, construction, and installation of each of the works. A budget of $25,000 or (much) more per work was offered by donors such as the Coachella Music Festival (which donated over $100,000) and electric car company Evelozcity. On 55 miles spread between the Wildland Park in the northwest and the Salton Sea in the southeast, the installations take the visitor on a road trip on a circuitous path of highways, windmill farms, gas stations, hot spring spas, residential compounds, and Modernist homes. The works will be up until April 21 and are accessible free of charge, alongside a series of performances and events.

Land Art is no longer a romantic and heroic gesture in the vastness of nature. It is by essence a political act.

Big Read: The Land Art at Desert X Confronts Borders and Politics on Indigenous Territory


History’s largest Native American art fraud case will come through the courts this year after multiple family businesses manufactured, imported, and falsely distributed Native American-style jewelry as genuine between 2010 and 2015. The trade value reached nearly $12 million across 300 shipments in five years — now, five men and two businesses are charged with violating the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, importation by false or fraudulent practice, and failure to mark goods with their country of origin as required by customs law.

Congress passed the Indian Arts and Crafts Act (IACA) of 1990, to include the importation of knock-offs which undercut Native American economies and cultural heritage.

During the court hearing, Native American artist Liz Wallace said, “I don’t think calling this cultural appropriation is adequate. It’s economic colonization.”

Source: World’s Largest Native American Art Forgery Ring Distributed $12M of Fakes


  1. When it rains it pours… Too bad we brought the clouds with us when we landed (I’m telling you the tribes should never have fed us… 🙂 ) It is long overdue that we start taking Native concerns seriously — from education, addiction, disappearing women, suicide, abused children, fraud and outright theft and murder — the excuses are wearing thin. I certainly hope having more women in the House and our first Native woman there can start the tide turning toward discussion and change. But I fear all is going to get lost in talks of walls and mockery of Senator Warren’s heritage claims instead of tackling the issues behind both her claims and the mockery of them — which has already degenerated in MORE disrespecting of native PEOPLE…

    Liked by 1 person

    • (palm to forehead) (shaking my head) – Yup, I see the Warren case as noise and distraction and not worth the bother at all. Honestly KC, it’s the playbook of tyrants. Divert and distract… always…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Money corrupts.

    As for ‘authenticity,’ who decides? If it’s for sale, can it ever be authentic?

    I mean, a person’s gotta make a living, yes, and in this world such as it is, making a living means having to sell, to prostitute oneself in some respect.

    That a work of art can fetch a price is incidental and not essential to the work. The buying and selling of art as such does not preclude its authenticity. But art produced solely with an eye to its price, no matter how technically outstanding and inspired it may be appear to be, is at bottom soulless.

    Authentic creation, artistic creation, tinged with cultural memory or otherwise, has no price, or at least is born of motives that have nothing at all to do with buying and selling.

    Creation, when it is art, is the movement of a life trying to encapsulate itself, of a groping toward self-materialization, an attempt at embodying a structured impulse, an effort at capturing a movement of intention into the fixity of an eternalizing form.

    Art is a doing that wants to leave a trace of itself, so that it may then step back from that trace so as to behold itself, to confirm itself in the dignity of its self-created existence.

    Creation, when it is only for selling, is a desecration of the upsurge of being.

    Liked by 1 person

      • In a context of ‘money making,’ a copyright has certainly been infringed. Let the Navajo collect their due, as they well should, given the all encompassing imperatives of capital.

        Still and all, I can’t but cringe at the commodification of ‘culture,’ even more so at the commodification of a presumed ‘cultural identity,’ of artifact purportedly inscribing such an identity.

        Capital is the ruin of all cultures, of all things cultural, of the spiritual dimension of humankind.

        That, for me, is the unspoken crux of the tragedy and scandal at hand.

        Liked by 1 person

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