Where the Beach is Made of Bones.

Imagine yourself on the shores of a sea that should not exist in one of the harshest deserts in North America. Imagine a region of promise facing unmitigated environmental disaster. Imagine yourself on a beach made of bones.

This project uses photography, sound, and mixed media to transport the viewer to the Salton Sea and its surrounding communities of Bombay Beach and Slab City. The communities exist within a conceptual blank space in inland California. In this corner of the Mojave Desert, Individuals have gravitated to this space over time, booming and busting in regular intervals. It has been known for brief moments to the outside world, as a tourist destination, has occasionally been featured in films like ‘Into the Wild’, or brought to prominence when people flood into Coachella for the music festival. It has been called ‘the last free place in America’. However, today it is an apocalyptic wasteland. The place brings to mind images of time forgot and the Mad Max wastelands of the distant future.

Land ownership is tenuous and often nonexistent. Traditional structures of power fall apart. Rules are decided communally and often the traditional source of law and order is absent. One is simply allowed to be. Absence is often the defining feature of the desert and here it comes in full force through the landscape and governmental authority and services. However, what may at first feel empty is truly full. By turning absence on its head and looking at what is present we can begin to have an insider’s view of the region, the people presented, and their alternative community. This laissez-faire modality of living is under threat and we must ask what does it mean for these people and this place when these metaphors of absence break down or cease to exist?


  • Aaron Robinson
  • 2016