Postcard from... Joshua Tree


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The Independent Online

Along a dirt road in the Mojave Desert just outside Joshua Tree is one of the world’s weirdest sculpture parks. The Outdoor Desert Art Museum of Assemblage Sculpture was created on this seven-half acre square of sand and brush by the African-American artist Noah Purifoy, who moved here from LA in the late 1980s.

Scattered across the land in an order indiscernible except, perhaps, to their creator are a strange and alluring artworks made from found materials. Purifoy welded, nailed and otherwise cobbled together bowling balls and bicycles, train tracks and toilet bowls on this site between 1989 and 2004, when he died aged 86.

The museum has a post-apocalyptic feel, like somewhere Mad Max might encounter a desert soothsayer or a gang of psychopathic bikers. There’s no entry fee, and no security guards. The sand and the blue sky turn even the most bizarre works to Instagram gold.

Purifoy made his name constructing sculptures from the detritus of the Watts Riots in 1965, and some of the works here are similarly resonant: a toilet bowl sits next to a drinking fountain in “White/Coloured”.

The installation “Shelter” was built from salvaged scraps of a neighbour’s house that burned down.