Reporter Camps Out at Mojave Desert Pool Installation

alfredo-barsuglia-social-pool MAK Center (2004)
Alfredo Barsuglia, Social Pool (2014).
Photo: Courtesy the artist, MAK Center.

An intrepid Huffington Post reporter named Sasha Bronner spent the night at Alfredo Barsuglia‘s Social Pool, a swimming pool mysteriously stranded in California’s Mojave Desert, and lived to tell the tale.

The pool, which is open through September, was commissioned by Los Angeles’s MAK Center (see artnet News report). Interested parties can borrow a key from the non-profit that will unlock the pool cover for 24 hours. The only instructions you get are a set of coordinates that mark the pool’s location, which is quite literally in the middle of the desert—there’s no sign, road, or even a trail to mark the way.

The pool’s isolated location left Bronner and her friends feeling as though “we had just officially entered the mind of Stephen King.” She also passed a number of “questionable meth RVs” on her way to the pool, leading her to remark that “the trip suddenly had all the makings of the complete Breaking Bad experience.”

Far from the solitary experience Bronner was expecting, there was a group of people waiting at the pool when she arrived. They drove off without a word, but a more menacing pair of visitors arrived after nightfall with plans of their own to hang out at the pool.

“The entire Internet probably knew our exact location and anyone could have a copy of that key,” Bronner realized. “Enter every horror movie plot you’ve ever seen.” Other trip highlights included a nocturnal visit from a coyote, and Bronner’s friends’ car breaking down as they attempted to leave the pool (luckily, they had come in two vehicles).

Nevertheless, the five-by-eleven foot pool was still their “own personal desert mirage.” They enjoyed an afternoon and evening swimming, drinking beers, and eating pizza and peanut butter sandwiches, all set to a soundtrack of Paul Simon and Fleetwood Mac. They found themselves “bewildered by the beautiful emptiness of it all,” and captivated by the beauty of the stars.

As for the ever-popular “is it art?” question, Bronner had her own opinion: “It didn’t matter.”


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