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Desert X: Contemporary Art Makes its Way to AlUla

13 artists from all over the world, 13 works of contemporary art, 13 different experiences set up in the AlUla desert...

A few steps away from Marraya, a masterpiece of design and architecture, a delegation of national and international artists express themselves in an attempt to sublimate the place. And from our first steps in the maze of rock and sand which shelters the heart of the creation, it is necessary to recognize that the place has indeed been sublimated.

A concise passage, by Rashed Alshashai

There are breathtaking works of beauty, such as that of the Franco-Tunisian eL Seed, which has laid out an ochre calligraphy, circular in shape, all in relief, which can only be fully appreciated by taking a little height, those full of meaning, like the one by Saudi artist Rashed Al Shashai, entitled “A concise passage”, which depicts the mountain itself, recalling its role as a protective refuge for caravans that once used to use the trade routes, and whose shape, color, structure, the slightest element has a role and meaning – even the materials, plastic pallets, are a nod to today’s trade.

Finally, there are works that combine the pleasurable with the pleasant, allowing the less art-loving to take advantage of an infrastructure that is as original as it is unexpected, such as these large swings placed high up (One, two, three, swing, by the Danish artists’ collective Superflex), that give visitors wings to fly over the valley, or that dozen trampolines (Now you see me, now you don’t, from Saudi Arabia’s Manal Al Dowayan), which undeniably reaps the favours of the vast majority of visitors, with children leading the way.

“A real contemporary art fair”

In the opinion of specialists in the genre, such as Edouard, a French artistic director visiting the region to discover it, “it’s a great introduction to contemporary art, with artists scrupulously chosen. We discover fun, but also educational installations on the history and culture of the country. It’s an interesting way to discover a country that is still mysterious to us”.

Hugo, a designer in Paris, agrees and stresses the “incredible potential of this event, with the possibility of bringing together even more international artists and creating something great, which could resemble an exhibition like Art Basel, and attract a whole international population here”. We are tempted to believe them, as we leave the place completely stunned by its originality.