Al-Urma mountain range: A lofty landmark at the King Khalid Royal Reserve

Al-Urma mountain range: A lofty landmark at the King Khalid Royal Reserve
Al-Urma mountain range: A lofty landmark at the King Khalid Royal Reserve

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: A Saudi arts organization recently organized a workshop in Riyadh for artists, travel enthusiasts, and learners interested in exploring desert landscapes.

The Diriyah Biennale Foundation seminar was staged as part of the year-long Biennale Encounters series of events.

Aseel Alyaqoub, a researcher and interdisciplinary artist from Kuwait, presented the workshop titled “Desert as Method.”

She said: “My work focuses on identity, culture, and nation. I am interested in history, and I am interested in finding out the identity of a nation, as well as the culture of a nation based on identity. Is identity fixed or does it keep changing?

“In the micro sense, the identity of an individual is different than the identity of a community, that is different than the identity of a believer,” she added.

The workshop redefined desert landscapes from a cognitively intertwined perspective and helped create new connections between the desert environment, space, and society.

It began with a presentation of visions of the desert drawn from historical records, cultural narratives, and architectural environments. Participants were then divided into groups to re-examine the concept of the desert either through written texts, drawn sites, or collected images.

Delegates delved into a collective experience of exploration, analysis, dialogue, and contemplation in redefining new and marginalized concepts, establishing an archive of texts, sites, and images, allowing them to transfer and share their own perception of the desert.

The workshop was Alyaqoub’s first in the Kingdom.

She said: “I loved it. I have done workshops in Kuwait, and in other countries. It is very interesting to see how we are neighbors, and we think alike, yet our cultures are very different, with completely different histories.

“It was also interesting to see how the workshop was a mixed experience, the age range, the diverse culture and identity of the attended group, and their reactions to the workshop.”

Alyaboub is part of Safat Studios in Kuwait, an initiative that aims to provide local artists with a creative space and experimental programs.

She was also involved in the Kuwait National Pavilion at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2021.

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