Desert X 2023 has closed. This installation is no longer on view.
Lauren Bon and Metabolic Studio
The Smallest Sea With the Largest Heart
b. New Haven, Connecticut, USA, 1962
Based in Los Angeles, California
The Smallest Sea with the Largest Heart
Palm Springs, California, USA
Desert X 2023
Lauren Bon is an artist whose practice embraces environmental activism. Working with architecture, performance, photography, sound and farming, she creates urban, public and land art that she terms “devices of wonder” to galvanize social and political transformation. For Bon, infrastructure to regenerate life and reveal its abundance can be art. In 2005, Bon created Metabolic Studio. Derived from the Greek word for “change,” metabolism is the process that maintains life. In continuous cycles of creation and destruction, metabolism transforms nutrients into energy and form. The actions generated by Metabolic Studio are global in focus and reach: developing new tools for urban living and city planning; inventing novel social practices for political and environmental justice; and directing art practice to engage on the same scale as society’s capacity to destroy. Metabolic Studio is a force for change, showing that another reality is possible by pointing the way to new endeavors and practices in an age of economic and environmental scarcity.
Bon and Metabolic Studio have created a poetic object that submerges visitors in the deep past and the distant future, taking inspiration from plants, which metabolize sunlight into energy, and the blue whale, the largest animal known to have lived on Earth. Fueling the potential for future life and visually transforming itself in the process, the work, which merges swimming pools in a landscape associated with tremendous water shortage, with water and fish-bone skeleton “sand” from the Salton Sea, reminds us not only of the imperative for artists to create at the same level as society’s capacity to destroy, but also of our own connection to water and that the desert was once a sea. A lace-like steel sculpture of a to-scale blue whale heart is submerged in a pool pumped full of Salton-Sea water, but rather than stand as a harbinger of death, the sculpture metabolizes and creates energy and clean water that it deposits back into the atmosphere, fueling the potential for future life across the run of the exhibition and visually transforming itself in the process.
Generous support is provided by Western Wind Foundation, Christine & James Scott, the Alexander Hotel, and the Palm Springs Public Arts Commission.