Kim Stringfellow’s book Jackrabbit Homestead: Tracing the Small Tract Act in the Southern Californian Landscape 1938-2008 explores how the public land policy made the desert accessible to a new demographic of land owners and introduced an architectural vernacular whose imprint persists to this day. The 112-square-foot cabin she created for Desert X trades the stark solitary romanticism of sand and sky for a small patch of sprawl nestled between the Palm Desert Chamber of Commerce and a CVS Pharmacy. Decontextualized in this way, the diminutive and unglamorous 1950s proletariat kit home becomes a beacon for conversations about class, sustainability, capitalism, public land, and the commons. Inside the cabin, a woman’s voice — that of Catherine Venn Peterson, who chronicled her 1950 homesteading experience for Desert Magazine — is heard as part of an audioscape collaboration between the artist, Georgia-based musician/artist/author Jim White, and fellow Georgian singer/songwriter Claire Campbell. Tim Halbur contributed sound design.
Kim Stringfellow (San Mateo, California, 1963) is an artist, educator, writer, curator, environmentalist, and desert anthropologist based in Joshua Tree, California. For the past 20 years, her practice has focused on the human-driven transformation of some of the American West’s most arid regions through multi-year, research-based projects merging cultural geography, public practice, and experimental documentary into socially engaged transmedia experiences. A professor at San Diego State University’s School of Art+Design, Stringfellow is a 2016 Andy Warhol for the Visual Arts Curatorial Fellow and a 2015 Guggenheim Fellow in Photography.
Palm Desert, California, USA
Desert X 2021
The artist and Desert X would like to thank the following for their generous support in making this project possible: Jerry Comer, Hot Purple Energy and the City of Palm Desert.