The California-based land art biennial Desert X moves from one desert to another, trading its native California for the oasis of AlUla, Saudi Arabia for the second time. The contemporary art exhibition presents 15 new international artists, from February 11 to March 30, 2022, all accessible for free.
After a successful inaugural edition in 2020, followed by a year marked by Covid-19, Desert X AlUla launches its new exhibition this Friday, scheduled to last until March 30. On the program, works set up by 15 international artists in the middle of the desertic and lunar landscapes of the AlUla oasis, a key region of Saudi Arabia’s tourism project, located in the northwest of the country.
As if to echo this choice of location, the theme of this new edition, Sarab, explores the notions of mirage, illusion, dream, all intrinsically linked to the desert itself, and to the imagination aspect of an oasis. All this while trying to highlight the duality between natural landscape and human creation.
An international and eclectic program
On display, works by Saudi, Ghanaian, Swiss, English, American, Canadian, Palestinian, Polish artists… Fifteen creators in total, from all over the world, take the floor and present works between the sand dunes and the rocky eminences of AlUla, under the artistic direction of Reem Fadda, Raneem Farsi and Neville Wakefield.
Among others, and without spoiling the surprise, the exhibition features the work of Paris-based Saudi artist Shadia Alem. She presents a sculpture work inspired by the art of origami, those paper folds originating from Japan, putting into practice notions of geometry to create forms that refer to the mythology and literature of the Arab desert.
As for the work of Ghanaian artist Serge Attukwei Clottey, it alludes to globalization, migration, and the equitable distribution of resources, whereas that of L.A.-based Canadian artist Stephanie Deumer lies somewhere between nature and technology, with the creation of an underground greenhouse. Many other proposals are to be discovered within the framework of the exhibition.
An artistic springboard
Desert X AlUla also aims to contribute to and perpetuate the artistic heritage of the local community and the region. That is why the works of the 2020 edition, signed by none other than Lita Albuquerque, Manal AlDowayan, Sherin Guirguis, Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim, Nadim Karam and Superflex remain in place in AlUla, always visible from the Habitas sustainable hotel. In addition, the festival can be a real artistic springboard for young artists in the region. For example, Rashed AlShashai and Muhannad Shono were selected to work in AlUla’s first artistic residency, an 11-week program that ran until January 14, 2022. Similarly, Zahrah Alghamdi, whose work Glimpses of the Past was featured in the inaugural Desert X AlUla, went on to exhibit her critically acclaimed work What Lies Behind the Walls at Desert X 2021 in California.