Desert X AlUla is the first site-responsive exhibition of its kind in Saudi Arabia.
PLASMA 6 article
An exploration of desert culture, the exhibition is a cross-cultural dialogue between artists from Saudi Arabia and its surrounding region and artists from previous iterations of Desert X in California, taking its cues from the extraordinary landscape and historical significance of AlUla. Over the past year, AlUla has welcomed artists to engage with its environmental conditions, historical context and surrounding communities. Large-scale site-specific works presented in the exhibition will inspire new dialogue about the desert and reflect on themes that range from the passage of goods and ideas along the ancient incense route, the cultural memory that passage has left, and the natural resources that have shaped the region, both past and present.
DXA Lita Albuquerque 4 pic Lance Gerber
Serving as a crossroads between three continents and a gateway between East and West, AlUla was built from successive civilisations and for millennia was a place for cultural exchange. As AlUla’s first major contemporary art exhibition, Desert X AlUla marks an exciting and transformative moment for Saudi Arabia, reviving this cultural legacy and adding new layers to the destination’s future as an open living museum that inspires creativity. The exhibition is unlocking national talents, providing opportunities for local guides, engaging with youth and community through schools, universities and public outreach programmes, including artist-run workshops, and laying the groundwork for future creative endeavours and collaborations.
Desert X AlUla co-curator Raneem Farsi says: “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. Many of the works on view are informed by the multiple layers of history shaping the region and through exhibitions like this, we are working towards a more inclusive future through art.”
Neville Wakefield, Desert X Artistic Director and co-curator of Desert X AlUla comments:
“Our hope is that in helping bring a site-specific contemporary art exhibition to the desert of AlUla, there will be new conversations, new cultural dialogue between individuals and communities. The exhibition will engage with the citizens of the country – half of whom are under 30 years of age. Fostering engagement at this critical time provides a way to connect artists and individuals who have remained isolated for far too long.”
Desert X is produced by the Desert Biennial, conceived to produce recurring international contemporary art exhibitions that activate desert locations through site-specific installations by acclaimed international artists. Its guiding purposes and principles include presenting public exhibitions of art that respond meaningfully to the conditions of desert locations, the environment and the indigenous communities; promoting cultural exchange and education programmes that foster dialogue and understanding among cultures and communities about shared artistic, historical, and societal issues; and providing an accessible platform for artists from around the world to address ecological, cultural, spiritual, and other existential themes.
full article in PLASMA 6