To celebrate Coachella’s 20th anniversary, a selection of large, colourful installations that act as an eye-catching statement of art, spirituality and architecture were commissioned for the 2019 festival.
Architect Francis Kéré is one a number of creatives bringing their talents to the Colorado desert for the annual Coachella festival. As part of the event, which this year celebrates its 20th anniversary, a number of specially-commissioned, large-scale, sculptural installations have been created, as well as a series of immersive, multimedia experiences that embrace the visual arts, fashion, and architectural practice.
The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival has featured a diverse program of artist installations since its inception in 1999. The works, by artists from around the world, combine to create a ‘pop-up city’ that can be enjoyed by the festival’s temporary community. The installations act as landmarks to help map and navigate the field, serving as gathering points, as well as places for respite and shelter away from the desert heat.
Francis Kéré’s installation comprises 12 colourful towers that reference the baobab trees of his native West African village of Gando, Burkina Faso. “In my culture, the baobab is the most important tree,” explained Kéré. “It’s giant and it has multiple uses as food and medicine. It’s the place where you get together, celebrate, and discuss. It also attracts animals. It is spiritual. Naturally, you will walk toward it.”
The project is titled Sarbalé Ke, a phrase that means ‘house of celebration’ in Kéré’s native tongue. The structures, some of which are taller than 18 metres, have been rendered in joyful colours, while their shadows provide valuable shaded spaces.
Light is another important component. “In my culture where there is no light, no electricity, if we see a light we watch it for a while,” Kéré continues. “If it stays illuminated, we walk toward it, and there will be a celebration.”
Images by Lance Gerber, courtesy of Coachella