Video, 18:45 min, HD Video, Stereo, 2019

A Date With Destiny was filmed in the resort towns Desert Shores, Salton Sea Beach, Salton City, Red Hill Marina, Bombay Beach, North Shore & Mortmar, all situated around the coast lines of the Salton Sea, California.
The Salton Sea is an ecological disaster in the making: it was created by accident in 1905 when the Colorado River breached its dikes due to a human engineering error, flooding the Salton Sink desert valley for two years. As a result, birds flocked to the area, and fish that had been introduced to the lake were flourishing. Developers seized upon the rare setting and branded it the "Salton Riviera," the "miracle in the desert." Hotels, yacht clubs, homes, and schools sprang up along the shores as the Salton Sea became a resort destination for the rich and famous. At it's peak, the Salton Riviera was pulling in 1.5 million visitors annually, making it California's most popular tourist attraction.
227 feet below sea level, the Salton Sea is a terminal lake with no outlets and very little inflow of water, and it depends of agricultural runoff from the Imperial and Coachella valleys. As a result, the Salton Sea is ridden with pesticides, fertilizers, and salinity levels fifty percent greater than that of the Pacific Ocean. "By the late 1970s, the ecosystem was deteriorating rapidly. With no drainage outlet, almost zero yearly rainfall, and runoff flowing in from nearby farms, the sea was polluted with pesticides and saltier than the Pacific Ocean. Periodic flooding brought the poisoned water further ashore. Depleted oxygen in the sea killed scores of fish and dragged their rotting bodies onto the beach, where they shriveled in the sun. As they decomposed, the sand became coated in a layer of fragmented fish skeletons." (Ella Morton,
Today, California’s largest internal body of water is steadily drying up, exposing a lake bed that threatens to trigger toxic dust storms and exacerbate already high levels of asthma and other respiratory diseases in Southern California. Officials are even concerned about the presence of potentially toxic heavy metals like arsenic. The lakes odor can be smelled 150 miles away in Los Angeles.

Text: Niklas Goldbach

[…] More generally, tourist infrastructures play a prominent role in Goldbach’s works, for instance in the video A Date with Destiny (2019), which was shot in derelict holiday resorts along the Salton Sea. Resulting from the collapse of a dam in 1905, California’s largest inland lake was a popular holiday destination in the 1960s and 1970s. Today, the resorts on the former ‘Salton Riviera’ are falling into disrepair as the lake slowly dries up, leaving behind a highly toxic, apocalyptic landscape. Here, the land of plenty has not burnt down [as in a common German nursery rhyme], but is silted up and poisoned […].

Inke Arns, excerpt from "The Paradise Machine - Of Towers and Foundation Pits in the Works of Niklas Goldbach"
Introductory text to the exhibition publication "The Paradise Machine", HMKV Dortmund, 16 March - 11 August 2024

[…] Überhaupt spielen touristische Infrastrukturen in den Arbeiten von Niklas Goldbach eine große Rolle, so zum Beispiel in dem Video A Date With Destiny (2019), das in den verwüsteten Ferienorten entlang des Salton Sea gedreht wurde. Dieser 1905 durch einen Unfall entstandene größte Binnensee Kaliforniens war in den 1960er und 1970er Jahren eine sehr populäre Urlaubsdestination. Heute verfallen die Orte an der ehemaligen „Salton Riviera“, weil der See langsam austrocknet und eine hochtoxische, apokalyptische Landschaft hinterlässt. Hier ist das Schlaraffenland nicht abgebrannt, sondern verlandet und vergiftet […].

Inke Arns, Auszug aus „Die Paradiesmaschine - Von Türmen und Baugruben in den Arbeiten von Niklas Goldbach",
Einleitungstext zur Ausstellungspublikation „The Paradise Machine", HMKV Dortmund, 16.3.- 11.8.2024

A Date With Destiny was filmed in holiday resorts along the Salton Sea. With a surface of nearly 1,000 square kilometres, it is the largest lake in California – and the site of an ecological disaster. The lake was created by accident: In 1905, a dam on the Colorado River burst, continuously pouring water into the Salton Basin desert valley for two years. This resulted in the formation of a lake 70 km long and 30 km wide. In the 1950s, developers began promoting the area as the Salton Riviera, a ‘miracle in the desert’. Hotels, yacht clubs, apartment blocks and schools sprang up on the shores of the sea, which became a holiday destination for the rich and famous. In its heyday, the Salton Riviera attracted 1.5 million visitors a year, making it the most popular tourist attraction in California. As the lake is landlocked, it has registered repeated cases of oxygen deficiency, salinisation and mass fish die-offs, partly due to the high levels of fertiliser contained in agricultural effluents. As a result, it is slowly drying out, leaving behind a highly contaminated landscape. Clouds of toxic dust from the lake are exacerbating the already high incidence of respiratory diseases in Southern California, and on some days the stench can be smelt in Los Angeles, some 240 km away.

Inke Arns, short text from the exhibition publication "The Paradise Machine", HMKV Dortmund, HMKV Dortmund, 16 March - 11 August 2024

A Date With Destiny wurde in Ferienorten entlang des Salton Sea gedreht. Dieser ist mit fast 1.000 Quadratkilometern der größte See Kaliforniens – und er ist eine ökologische Katastrophe. Der See entstand durch einen Unfall: 1905 brach ein Damm des Colorado River, welcher sich danach zwei Jahre in die Salton-Senke, ein Wüstental, ergoss. Dort bildete sich ein 70 km langer und 30 km breiter See. In den 1950er Jahren begannen Entwickler von der „Salton Riviera“ zu sprechen, einem „Wunder in der Wüste“. Hotels, Yachtclubs, Wohnhäuser und Schulen entstanden an den Ufern des Salton Sea und er wurde zu einem Urlaubsziel für die Reichen und Berühmten. In ihrer Blütezeit zog die Salton Riviera jährlich 1,5 Millionen Besucher*innen an und war damit die beliebteste Touristenattraktion Kaliforniens. Da der See über keinen Ablauf verfügt, kam es – auch wegen des hohen Anteils an Düngemitteln aus der Landwirtschaft – wiederholt zu Sauerstoffmangel, Versalzung und massenhaftem Fischsterben. Der Salton Sea trocknet langsam aus und hinterlässt eine hochtoxische Landschaft. Giftige Staubstürme verschlimmern die ohnehin schon hohe Zahl von Atemwegserkrankungen in Südkalifornien und an manchen Tagen kann man den See noch 240 km entfernt in Los Angeles riechen.

Inke Arns, Kurztext zur Ausstellungspublikation „The Paradise Machine", HMKV Dortmund, 16.3.- 11.8.2024

"Relativity Check" by Locust Fudge
Published by Edition MirrorWorldMusic
© 2018 play loud!

Promotional Material:
"The Miracle in the Desert"
The Holly Corporation,1968





Exhibition view:
"Niklas Goldbach: The Paradise Machine"
HMKV Hartware MedienKunstVerein Dortmund, 16.3. - 11.8.2024
Curated by Inke Arns


Exhibition views:
Watermans Art Center, London, 12/2023