The vision of the present meets the wisdom of the past: one of the most exciting and forward-thinking exhibitions took place for the second time in the ancient desert valley of north-western Saudi Arabia and proving that inspiration doesn’t run dry when there is a thirst for expression. Free and open to all, Desert X AlUla is a recurring, site-responsive, international art exhibition taking place in AlUla, a globally significant ancient desert region in Saudi Arabia.
Desert X AlUla 2022 is an international open-air art exhibition. The second edition of Desert X AlUla, under the curatorial vision of Reem Fadda, Raneem Farsi and Neville Wakefield, explores the region’s natural and cultural heritage through a series of art installations by 15 international artists: Shadia Alem, Dana Awartani, Serge Attukwei Clottey, Claudia Comte, Shezad Dawood, Jim Denevan, Stephanie Deumer, Sultan bin Fahad, Zeinab AlHashemi, Alicja Kwade, Shaikha AlMazrou, Abdullah AlOthman, Khalil Rabah, Monika Sosnowska, Ayman Zedani. It exposes principles of land art and offers an opportunity for the viewers to experience art on a monumental scale in dialogue with the spectacular natural setting. Al-‘Ula was the capital of the ancient Lihyanites civilization and used to cover around 2,391 square km. It’s believed that approximately 10 million to 12 million years ago, the area hosting the exhibition was part of the delta of what is now the Red Sea. The main topic of the exhibition is related to the dichotomy between the natural and man-made world. The desert scenery becomes a subject of inspiration, the participants extract creative stimulations from the natural forms and create art pieces of, camouflage, fiction, illusion and mythology. Desert installations, interact with the surrounding rock formations and seamlessly blends into the imposing landscape. The natural and cultural scenery becomes an open space for visual experimentation by the artists. The invisible connection between two phenomenally different natural sceneries, like dessert and sea, starts to make sense through the eyes of London-based artist Shezad Dawood. His installation “Coral Alchemy”, represents a pair of giant coral-like forms that explore the way our world changes over time, and the geological, biological and human-driven processes behind this – most notably climate change. In the work of Claudia Compte, black and white graphic patterns form an interaction between organic and geometric shapes, nature and culture, order and chaos, terms which are conceptualized as dichotomous by societies. The artist Shadia Alem creates sculptural installations by applying the basic principles of geometry to create shapes that reference the Arabian desert’s tradition. Desert X AlUla restarts the region’s long-standing legacy of being a cultural crossroad and revealing forgotten aspects of the historical desert landscape. The vision of the present meets the wisdom of the past. Get a taste of the majestic project.