Los Angeles Times

Commentary: Why the Desert X art festival deal with Saudi Arabia is morally corrupt

Desert X, the biennial exhibition of site-related installation art shown throughout Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley, recently announced a dramatic move into international territory. The details, however, instead mark the beginning of the end for a once-promising art event.

Starting Jan. 31, Desert X will mount a show in Saudi Arabia. Its website says the intent is to connect global desert locations through contemporary art and artists. The inaugural 2017 Coachella exhibition was auspicious, and this year's installment was intermittently engaging if muddled overall. But the upcoming Saudi segment makes achieving the goal hopeless.

There's no mystery as to why. Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy built on theocratic law. Free expression is forbidden. Illegal. A criminal act.

The modern idea of art is exactly opposite. Apostasy - the abandonment or renunciation of official or establishment belief - is integral to it. A diverse cosmopolitan culture cannot function

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