The Bombay Beach Biennale is a renegade celebration of art, music, and philosophy that takes place each year on the literal edge Western Civilization, at the shores of the Salton Sea. (Un)contained within the limits of Bombay Beach, the Biennale, founded in 2016, transforms the town into a fully-immersive art movement for three days out of the year, but leaves a lasting mark on a place that refuses to be forgotten or written off, even as the man-made lake it was built upon disappears.
As an anti-establishment and community building experience, the entire event is free of charge; it is not about making money. There is no advertising. There is no marketing. The only agenda is saving the Sea.
Abandoned houses and vacant lots serve as a canvas for many artists while concerts, operas, ballets, talks, movie screenings, and full art exhibits take place throughout the town: in people’s homes; at the ruins on the waterfront; at the permanent BBB fixtures: The Hermitage Museum, The Bombay Beach Opera House, the Drive-In Movie Theater, the Bombay Beach Beach Club, and The Institute; and in the town’s pre-existing establishments- The Ski Inn and The American Legion.
Each year, more structures and lots are bought up and borrowed throughout the entirety of the area so that artists can display their work. This allows both locals and visitors the opportunity to explore and stumble across the various thoughtfully curated and thought-provoking programming along with adding both cultural and economic value to the town.
Initially known as a “miracle in the desert” and just an hour away from Palm Springs, the once pristine Salton Sea, where Frank Sinatra and The Beach Boys spent their weekends performing and sport fishing, and where millions of migratory birds make a critical stopover each year, has become a polluted time bomb. As Imperial Valley water allocations, rising salinity levels, and agricultural runoff all contribute to the massive fish-die offs, outbreaks of botulism, and steady evaporation that threatens this microcosm, the eccentric town of Bombay Beach and surrounding communities fight for both the sea and their way of life in the face of daunting political, economic, and environmental odds.
While a permanent solution to this systemic demise remains out of reach, and government programs designed to help are consistently undeveloped or underfunded, we hope to bring much needed global attention to the plight of the Sea through cultural immersion. As the art within the town grows over time and more visitors flock to the area, we are raising awareness both within the general public and through media coverage, while enriching the lives of the residents that are both plagued and sustained by this ecological disaster.
Permanent Biennale Fixtures Include:
The Bombay Beach Drive-In - an outdoor movie theatre featuring car shells, boats, and off-road vehicles newly renovated for Year 2 and gifted to the town as a year round cinema, but with curated film series during the Biennale. This year’s theme- Sea of Love: Monsters in the Water.
The Hermitage Bombay Beach - a tear down house turned permanent town gallery, renovated to the specifications of artist in residence Greg Haberny. A new wing of The Hermitage Museum will have its unveiling this year as well as a new exhibit from renowned visual artists to be announced in the coming month.
The Bombay Beach Beach Club - a French Riviera style open bar and lounge on the beachfront where after sunset, world-renowned DJ’s spin around trash-can fires and take revelers to dawn.
The Bombay Beach Opera House - another dilapidated house transformed into a fully automated front-opening state-of-the-art performing arts space and gallery masterminded by artist James Ostrer. Prima ballerina, Maria Kotchekova of the SF Ballet will be performing at the Bombay Beach Opera House once again this year with a very special and unique presentation of Swan Lake.
The Lectures In Ruins Series - Philosophy, architecture, literature, futurology and nudism have been the past subjects of live lectures and presentations in abandoned buildings and the current ruins of Bombay Beach. Notable speakers have included Professors Mark Wrathall, Andrew Winer, and writer Geoff Dyer
The Toy House - by Kenny Scharf
The Bombay Beach Banned Book Library - by Sandy White and Kenny Scharf
The Bombay Beach Particle Accelerator
*The Drive-In and Hermitage are run by locals during the year. Keys are held by members of the town, and anyone is allowed to set up a tour or schedule a screening.
Hints of what is to come in 2018:
- World renowned prima ballerina Maria Kochetkova of the SF Ballet will be performing at the Bombay Beach Opera.
- The ground breaking of The Last Resort, the forthcoming "hotel de ville" of the strange desert town.
- The grand opening of The Bombay Beach Institute of Particle Physics, Metaphysics & International Relations.
- The opening of artist Randy Polumbo's massive installation Angler Grove, a revelatory woodland portal in the bones of a dilapidated bachelor pad.
- The unveiling of The Bombay Beach Botanical Gardens with an installation of NINE by Yassi Mazandi.
- A new wing of The Hermitage Museum will have its unveiling as well as a new exhibit from renowned visual artists to be announced in the coming month.
- A newly renovated Bombay Beach Drive-In will host the first year of the Bombay Beach International Film Festival.
- Permanent Photo Exhibits by world renowned photographers Robert Stivers, Stefanie Schneider and many others.
- Students of Suprastudio at IDEAS/UCLA will light up the streets with themed and moving Lights.
- MOONTRUCK by Giancarlo Neri.
- Sculptures by Bill Attaway, Alexandra Sand, Steve Shigley and many more.
- Grand Opening of the Pythia Omphalos at Bombay Beach, new site of the Salton Sea Oracle.
- Philosophy and Architectural talks will include speakers: Geoff Dyer, Christopher Ryan, Christia Mercer, Mark Wrathall, and Mark Mack.
- World-renowned multi-disciplinary artist Rachel Libeskind will enact her acclaimed improvisational installation and performance work "The Traveling Bag," along with other initiatives in line with historicist appropriation, the transmutation of the past and the collection/curation of images/objects.
- Critically-lauded musicians Julie Davis and Jess Parsons will perform their haunting, holy analog-electro project BLUEBOOK, best described as "post-apocalyptic lounge music."
- Experimental and Sustainable urinals from France will alleviate common festival smells.
- Poet, vocalist, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Vera Sola brings her coven of musicians to offer time collapsing torque-sound "ghost folk" in various arrangements and environments, accompanied by visuals natural and unnatural in collaboration with god and other artists.
- Soul, pop and country sounds hitting the lowest bar in the Western Hemisphere.
- Sustainable Hay-bale _Disco-Tron and an exhibition of Artist Shelters will be displayed.
- Silent disco with ambient group Superposition, DJ set by Justin Boreta and Ooah of The Glitch Mob, Adam Freeland and more to come!
- Ethiopian sounds on the Salton Sea Beach
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