Alfredo De Stefano, "Red Mummy in the White Desert - Sahara Desert" (2008) (all images courtesy LA Art Show)

The LA Art Show, one of the city’s oldest art fairs dating back to 1994, will return next year with an institutional section focused on climate change. The fair, held in the Los Angeles Convention Center, will run from February 15 through February 19.

Unlike the general fair, DIVERSEartLA will spotlight eight museums, cultural organizations, and non-profits — including the Museum of Latin American Art — and the featured works will not be for sale. It’s the second year in a row that DIVERSEartLA has highlighted the climate crisis since the section was inaugurated in 2015, and for its upcoming edition, it will display video and immersive exhibitions.

Among them will be a presentation of work by Mexican photographer Alfredo De Stefano and curated by Fabian Goncálvez through the Art Museum of the Americas, a small institution in Washington, DC. De Stefanos’s photography depicts barren deserts occasionally populated with human figures. “Some of these images are visual metaphors for the painful desertification of the planet caused by human beings,” De Stefano said in an interview about the series. “But in other images, the scenes are created to suggest the ironies of our relationship with the desert, which is both magnificent and terrifying.”

An installation view of Pietro Ruffo and Elia Pellegrini’s Il Giardino Planetario

Another exhibition from the Italian Cultural Institute of Los Angeles, a United States outpost of Italy’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will present a video and immersive exhibition by artists Pietro Ruffo and Elia Pellegrini. The show, titled Il Giardino Planetario, will depict Earth as a metaphorical garden.

In California, eight of the 10 hottest years on record have occurred in the past decade, and over half of Los Angeles residents reported taking refuge from sky-high temperatures in locations like public libraries and malls, according to a University of Southern California survey. The study also found that between the summers of 2020 and 2021, 51% of respondents avoided going outside due to wildfire smoke. As massive blazes become more and more frequent, people in Los Angeles are reporting not only smoke, but ash falling from the sky.

DIVERSEartLA’s curator Marisa Caichiolo said in a press release that by contextualizing climate change issues through immersive experiences and installations, the fair will encourage visitors to confront the complex challenges of our global climate crisis and also to imagine solutions.”

Elaine Velie is a writer from New Hampshire living in Brooklyn. She studied Art History and Russian at Middlebury College and is interested in art's role in history, culture, and politics.