Landscape – Until the 7th of March 2020, 14 unexpected landscape installations blossom in the desert of Saudi Arabia. Innovative art festival Desert X presents the first edition of Desert X AlUla, the first site-responsive exhibition of its kind in the country. The diffused exhibition transforms an ancient oasis into a set of landscape installations. Check the ones we like the most.
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Desert X AlUla is “an exploration of desert culture.” Explain Saudi curators Raneem Farsi and Aya Alireza with Neville Wakefield, the artistic director of Desert X. “The exhibition is a cross-cultural dialogue between artists from Saudi Arabia and its surrounding region alongside artists from previous iterations of Desert X in California.”
Desert X AlUla is organised collaboratively by Desert X and the Royal Commission of AlUla (RCU). Large-scale site-specific works inspire new dialogue about the desert and reflect on themes that range from the passage of goods and ideas along the ancient incense route to cultural memory that and the natural resources that have shaped and still shape the region.
Lita Albuquerque created the Star map NAJMA installation which depicts the Elyseria, a fictional character inspired by a 25th century female astronaut on a mission to teach about the stars and navigation. “An ode to the region’s genesis as the birthplace of astronomy” says Albuquerque.
Rashed Alshashai presents the A concise passage installation reflecting on the passage of goods and trade from ancient past to modern times. A dark architectural gate with hot pink walls contrasts with the landscape “creating a bridge between desert vast open spaces and nowadays economic systems drawing borders”.
Mirage by El Seed is inspired by the image of fertility that the Alula oasis presented to those who first crossed the arid landscape in search of trade, allowing viewers to enter a script like structure submerged beneath the ground.
Manal Aldowayan illustrates temporary puddles of the desert. Formed by accident, the Now you see me, now you don’t installation features puddle-trampolines that can suggest and carry a tremendous amount of information and ideas, and make visitors bounce. At night, light shines through from below.
Glimpses of the past by Zahrah Alghamdi is an ode to alula’s agricultural wealth. 6.000 tin date containers which come in different sizes refer to palm tree groves and springs of water which have fueled the area’s trade for generations.
Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim ‘falling stones garden’ depicts the fragility of the desert ecosystem through 320 rock-like forms, in various sizes, painted in highly saturated colors.
“To exist in a global economy is to be in constant swing. Periods of intense flux are interrupted by moments of sudden paralysis.” Say at Superflex who brought to the Saudi Desert their One Two Three Swing! installation contrasting with the earthy landscape od Alula.
All photos of Desert X AlUla by Lance Gerber.