The 2024 Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale announces dates and curatorial team

The Biennale’s three-month exhibition period will feature newly commissioned art and architectural projects in addition to existing artworks and research projects

author_img IANS Published :  06th September 2023 10:10 AM   |   Published :   |  06th September 2023 10:10 AM
The Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale is organised by the Diriyah Biennale Foundation

The Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale is organised by the Diriyah Biennale Foundation

With an awareness of Diriyah’s specific site, the 2024 Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale intends to connect artists from Saudi Arabia, the wider region, and other parts of the world. The Biennale’s three-month exhibition period will feature newly commissioned art and architectural projects in addition to existing artworks and research projects in a series of repurposed former warehouses.

During this time, a live program of performances, concerts, and poetry readings will extend from the Biennale’s site into its surrounding environment, including the Wadi Hanifah. A number of these works reflect upon and engage with the unprecedented process of transformation taking place in Saudi Arabia today.

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The Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale is organised by the Diriyah Biennale Foundation, a public institution established in 2020 dedicated to nurturing creative expression and instilling an appreciation for culture and the arts in Saudi Arabia.

Diriyah, on the northwestern outskirts of Riyadh, is the historic home of the House of Saud and their royal residence At-Turaif, a Najdi mud-brick settlement founded in the fifteenth century that has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2009. Initially an oasis, Diriyah formed around the Wadi Hanifah, a valley with a seasonal river, where human presence dates back some 80,000 years of history that is currently being explored archaeologically.

The curatorial team of the 2024 Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale is led by globally renowned curator Ute Meta Bauer as Artistic Director and comprised of DBF curator Wejdan Reda (SA) and curators Rahul Gudipudi (IN), Rose Lejeune (UK), and Anca Rujoiu (RO). Together, they bring experiences and insights from diverse geographic backgrounds, extending the Biennale exhibition with artistic formats such as performance, sound, research-based practices, and digital forms.

The Biennale is being developed as a living entity rather than a static framework, with a strong focus on conversation and process. Collaborations and partnerships will connect the contributing artists and architects with local cultural producers, musicians, nonprofit entities, restaurateurs, traders, and farmers, pointing to how art practices today engage with society on multiple levels. The intention is to create spaces for personal encounters and exchange with and between diverse communities. Since April 2023, the Biennale Encounters program has been offering a regular series of public gatherings, artist talks, workshops, and other activities within the JAX District.

Additional members of the core team include Laura Miotto and Savina Nicolini / SNA (scenography), Attitudine Forma (art fabrication), Kai von Rabenau / mono.studio (graphic design), Ebrahim Hassan (lead Arabic editor), Laura Schleussner (managing editor), and Lucas Goy / les éclaireurs (lighting design). They will support the curatorial vision of a multi-sensory exhibition experience.

In preparation for the 2024 Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale, Bauer and members of the core team undertook research trips to various regions across Saudi Arabia, including Dammam, Khobar, Al-hasaa, Riyadh, Jeddah, Khamis Mushait, Abha, and Rijaal Almaa. These visits focused on creating dialogues with Saudi artists of different generations to learn about the country’s rich and diverse cultural scene.

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Ute Meta Bauer, Artistic Director of the 2024 Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale said, “I am delighted and honoured to be part of this remarkable project. The team of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation and the team of this edition of the Contemporary Art Biennale bring together a breadth of expertise in terms of geographies and skills, which provides an invaluable context for our process-oriented approach. Saudi Arabia has a long, rich history of art, and it has been a privilege to encounter so many practices over months of research. Our aim is to engage deeply with the location and the conversations taking place here while creating new connections within the region and beyond.”

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