Desert X Al Ula announces participating artists for its site-response exhibition in Saudi Arabia

Desert X Al Ula announces participating artists for its site-response exhibition in Saudi Arabia
Desert X Al Ula announces participating artists for its site-response exhibition in Saudi Arabia

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Desert X Al Ula, Saudia Arabia’s iteration of an art biennial originating from California, has announced the participating artists for its upcoming exhibition, which opens on Friday, January 31.

The exhibition takes place in the kingdom’s ancient oasis, the Al Ula desert, located in the north west of the country. Like the ones in California’s Desert X, the works created for Desert X Al Ula are site-responsive, relating to the natural environment and landscape, as well as exploring desert culture.

The first iteration is led by Saudi curators Raneem Farsi and Aya Alireza with Desert X artistic director Neville Wakefield. Together, they have developed a cross-cultural list of artists to take part in the exhibition, which runs until March 7.

The site-specific works to be presented at Desert X Al Ula have been a year in the making, as artists have been visiting the site over the last few months to engage with the environment and understand the region’s historical significance.

Highlights include Rayyane Tabet’s Steel Rings from his series The Shortest Distance Between Two Points, which references the pipeline by the Trans-Arabian Pipe Line Company. The sculpture comprises 40 rings, with an inscription marking each ring’s distance from the pipe’s source. Wael Shawky takes on another point in history with his installation Dictums: Manqia II, which conjures the memory of the region’s historic town with a video projection onto the rocks.

Emirati artist Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim will present Falling Stones Garden. Made of rock-like forms painted in his signature vibrant colours, the work speaks to the desert ecosystem and its status of survival. Manal AlDowayan also considers the landscape’s fragility, exploring it through an installation of artificial puddles title Now You See Me, Now You Don’t.

The full list of participating artists:

Lita Albuquerque (US)

Manal AlDowayan (Saudi Arabia)

Zahrah AlGhamdi (Saudi Arabia)

Nasser AlSalem (Saudi Arabia)

Rashed AlShashai (Saudi Arabia)

Gisela Colon (Canada)

Sherin Guirguis (Egypt)

Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim (UAE)

Nadim Karam (Lebanon)

eL Seed (France)

Wael Shawky (Egypt)

Muhannad Shono (Saudi Arabia)

Superflex (Denmark)

Rayyane Tabet (Lebanon)

In a statement, co-curator Raneem Farsi said, “Artists are at the centre of this exhibition conceived to foster artistic exchange and dialogue across continents. The diversity of backgrounds, concepts, and themes found in this exhibition affirms the power of art in creating cultural exchange beyond geographic boundaries.”

Desert X Al Ula is a collaboration between Desert X and the Royal Commission of Al Ula (RCU). The vast oasis valley where the event is set has sandstone mountains and ancient heritage sites. It is also the place of Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage site, Hegra, an archaeological site where well-preserved tombs and rock writings have been found.

More information can be found on experiencealula.com

Updated: January 19, 2020 11:40 AM

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