Desert X 2023 has closed. This installation is no longer on view.
b. Harlem, New York, USA, 1990
Based in New York
San Gorgonio Street and Bubbling Wells Road, Desert Hot Springs
Tschabalala Self’s work is concerned with the iconographic significance of the Black female body in contemporary culture. Her work explores the emotional, physical and psychological impact of the Black female body as icon and is primarily devoted to examining the intersectionality of race, gender and sexuality. Collective fantasies surround the Black body and have created a cultural niche in which exists our contemporary understanding of Black femininity. Her practice is dedicated to naming this phenomenon.
Pioneer is a monument built in homage to the collective foremothers of contemporary America. Placed in the California desert, Pioneer exists as a figure that is simultaneously born out the historical event of America’s creation and one that has an ephemeral quality, untethered by any moment in time. The desert often references both the beginning and the end. Pioneer similarly represents the lost, expelled and forgotten Indigenous, Native and African women whose bodies and labor allowed for American expansion and growth, while also standing as a beacon of resilience for their descendants — a visual representation of their birthright and place within the American landscape. The sculpture celebrates flexibility of the divine feminine spirit and form and the fluidity of identity in contemporary America. It is a reminder that even in the desert, we are born from water. Placed within a palm oasis of the desert, Pioneer poses the question: Does it only rain on wet land?
Generous support is provided by Galerie Eva Presenhuber and Pilar Corrias Gallery. Special thanks to Erica Chang.