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Eric N Mack
Eric N Mack’s Halter, Desert Xvia Desert X

Artist Eric N. Mack’s Desert X sculpture has gone missing

It’s being investigated as an ‘act of hate’

Coachella Valley is currently home to sprawling outdoor exhibition Desert X, which hasn’t been without its controversies. Now though, artist and 2018 Dazed 100-er Eric N. Mack took to Instagram yesterday to share the news that his piece “Halter” had mysteriously disappeared from Desert X.

In an Instagram post, Mack wrote: “I am overwhelmed by the news that my work ‘Halter’ was vandalised, burned and stolen from its Desert X site yesterday. As I process the loss of this artwork that I and many others worked tirelessly to realise, I am only pacified by knowing that many visitors experienced and appreciated it as it was. While the violence and hate enacted on this installation is astounding, I will not allow for this disregard to become a gesture that obstructs nor defines this work of art.”

Mack’s piece, a large-scale woven knit draped across an abandoned gas station, was one of 18 installations and performances, scheduled to be exhibited until April 21 at the bi-annual art event. Desert X’s artistic director, Neville Wakefield told ARTnews that they had considered the prospect of vandalism: “We have no clue at this point as to the motivation, why, and who it might have been. The desert does reclaim works in many ways. Eric’s was an amazing piece but very fragile and susceptible to weather conditions. It was a dissertation on wind and fragility. It was always vulnerable. A lot of people got to enjoy it. It’s been a hugely popular piece, and it survived elements. We’re all terribly sad that it’s gone in this manner, but rather than pointing fingers at causes that we don’t know, I would be inclined to celebrate its existence”.

According to the DesertSun, the local newspaper for the Coachella Valley area, a sheriff is investigating the disappearance of the piece and treating the case as an act of vandalism. It’s reported that burn marks were found on some pieces of fabric left behind. Ropes that had previously harnessed the fabric to the building were also singed and left dangling. It’s not thought that any environmental factors – such as intense wind – were at play.

“Halter” was situated at a defunct gas station at the end of the Salton Sea, made of rope, silk, and tulle which had been assembled to evoke a “physical embodiment of real and imagined desert wanderers”. In the course of the exhibition’s run, the wind and elements were meant to rip and shred the piece The fabric of the installation was made from Missoni fabric, which may potentially contribute to any motive for the piece’s disappearance.

Prior to the exhibition’s February opening, Jenny Holzer’s light-projection artwork BEFORE I BECAME AFRAID was postponed after environmental activists warned of its potential effects on the local sheep population.

There are no plans to recreate Mack’s piece at present. Police continue to investigate its disappearance.