«Deserts possess a particular magic, since they have exhausted their own futures, and are thus free of time. Anything erected there, a city, a pyramid, a motel, stands outside time. It’s no coincidence that religious leaders emerge from the desert. Modern shopping malls have much the same function. A future Rimbaud, Van Gogh or Adolf Hitler will emerge from their timeless wastes.» J.G. Ballard

Text by Maxime Bondu

Amboy, California, is a town located on the old 66 road in the heart of the mojave desert. Gaz station, post office, trailers, abandoned motel and no fresh water. The ghost town has stories of murders and satanic cults and since the town is at 3 hours from L.A, it’s a recurrent background for Hollywood movies. In front and behind the town, the beige and hot desert continues. The devil’s peak (in beige) is an installation composed of a glass pyramid distilling fresh water from the salty water lying beneath the ground in the primitive bristol lake, a concrete bench in shape of a crystal of salt and a windmill, lightning a neon bar translating the wind in morse language. The installation works as an attempt to translate both the hostile environment and landscape and the fiction narrative surrounding the ghost town.


Text by Séverin Guelpa

Matza Amboy is an artist residency, research and experimentation program that takes place once per year for four weeks at Amboy, in the heart of California’s Mojave Desert. Matza Amboy brings together a selection of artists but also researchers in the social sciences, engineers (solar energy, water) and architects (self-construction, historical preservation), who share their experiences and produce experimental works.

With the opening of the DRYLAND LAB in 2015, Matza Amboy dedicates its program to the question of water and its distribution. This blue gold has for long been the most coveted resource in California, and concern over it is at the heart of debates and controversies. Beyond the ecological and human questions it raises, it is additionally the element that symbolically links Amboy to Switzerland, specifically Valais, where Mazta was born. While the Swiss Alps today have an abundant water supply, representing the largest hydraulic basin in Europe, California incarnates with all its complexity the reverse – the scarcity of water, its concerns and collection, and the inequalities in its distribution when it becomes an instrument of power and profit.