Los Angeles-based artist Zoe Crosher has brought The Manifest Destiny Billboard Project to the desert, in partnership with the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert. Crosher began the project with the Los Angeles Nomadic Division (LAND) as an artistic interpretation of the concept of Manifest Destiny, exploring its problematic and layered history. Featuring a series of artist-produced billboards and activations along Interstate 10 from Florida to California, The Manifest Destiny Billboard Project has unfolded in chapters, with Crosher’s own chapter launching here in the Coachella Valley.
Crosher’s chapter, entitled LA-LIKE: Shangri-LA’d, was created by staging a lush landscape in Los Angeles. She photographed the entropic installation onsite to track its transforming and decaying façade. This wall of flora embodied the fantasy of Los Angeles and the promise of the western ideal. As the billboards unfold over space and time traveling west along I-10 in the Palm Springs area, the lush green foliage — symbolic of the promise of abundance — is in stark contrast to the barren desert landscape, and becomes increasingly withered and brown. The falsity of the romanticized notion of Manifest Destiny appears in her billboards as the promise of riches slowly degrades, just as the intangible American Dream can also slip away.
The launch of the billboards is presented in conjunction with Crosher’s installation at the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert. The installation, titled Expanded LA-LIKE: The Actual Shangri-LA’d Disappearing Wall, includes various activations and events taking place during the opening weekend celebration in Palm Desert and Desert Center on April 3 and 4, 2015. A new version of the flora wall as depicted on Crosher’s billboards has been installed on the museum’s grounds in collaboration with Palm Desert floral artist Briana Burt of Eventscape.
In addition, the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert has commissioned Scott Benzel’s Desert Center (Composition I-10, Mvmt IV: Dusk), a sound composition designed to respond to the traffic patterns and harmonics of the I-10 freeway. The first iteration of the performance takes place in the Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden during 1st Friday at The Galen from 7:30 to 9 p.m. on Friday, April 3. The second performance will take place at the site it was originally conceived for, a remote palm tree-studded location in Desert Center, at dusk on Saturday, April 4.
As part of its Earth Day Celebration, the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert is hosting a talk about The Manifest Destiny Billboard Project with Shamim M. Momin, Director and Curator of LAND, on Saturday, April 4 at 11 a.m. Finally, a project room inside the museum will feature documents from Crosher’s planning, musical scores from Benzel’s commission, maps to locate the sound performance and billboards, and other ephemera.
Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert
72567 Highway 111
Palm Desert, CA 92260
Images © Zoe Crosher