Bombay Beach, once a desert resort, fell down decrepitude. Now an influx of artists, intellectuals and hipsters are constructing it their playground
When ecological disaster reached Bombay Beach, a resort town marooned by a dying lagoonin California’s desert, research results looked apocalyptic.
Birds and fish died. Toxic dust swirled. The air stank. Tourists and most residents fled, leaving a virtual ghost town of abandoned, disintegrating homes.
For decades the only regular guests were film-makers who came to shoot horror flicks about zombies and Armageddon.
Now, Bombay Beach, population 295, is enjoying a rebirth of kinds with an influx of artists, intellectuals and hipsters who have turned it into a bohemian playground.
There is an opera house, a gallery, an “Hermitage” museum, a conceptual pavilion and a drive-in movie theatre. Which voices instead grand, but the desert breeze whistles through the fissures and it looks like Mad Max did the decorating.
The closest thing to a hotel- a shipping container with plywood floors and walls- is adorned with photographs of the criminally insane.
There are also giraffe statues, a defunct sensory deprivation tank, a four-dimensional hypercube called a tesseract and a fake particle accelerator made of gold-painted junk. Plus a festival, the Bombay Beach Biennale, with exhibitions, doctrine seminars, ballet and verse. Sandstorms and scorching sunlight can make it feel closer to Mars than Venice’s biennale.
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