A desert in Saudi Arabia has transformed into an outdoor art exhibition

Feb 10 2020, 1:52 pm

Saudi Arabia may not necessarily be the first destination that comes to mind when thinking of destinations for admiring art.

However, from now until March 7, 2020, it will be the location of a fascinating outdoor art installation sure to attract global attention.


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In a joint collaborative effort by Desert X and the Royal Commission of Al-ʿUla (RCU), the Desert X Al-ʿUla exhibition will occur in the Al-ʿUla desert, an “ancient oasis” in Saudi Arabia.

Desert X Al-ʿUla is “an exploration of desert culture,” the official website explains.

“The exhibition is a cross-cultural dialogue between artists from Saudi Arabia and its surrounding region and artists from previous iterations of Desert X in California, taking its cues from the extraordinary landscape and historical significance of Al-ʿUla.”

The desert remains somewhat undiscovered by the rest of the world, and this exhibition is sure to draw more attention to the beauty of this magical landscape.

It is also the first “site-responsive” exhibition of its kind to take place in The Kingdom, according to the website.


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The exhibition celebrates the blending of cultural voices and is co-curated by Saudi curators Raneem Farsi and Aya Alireza with the artistic director of Desert X, Neville Wakefield.

The event has previously taken place in the desert of Coachella Valley in California, in 2017 and 2019.

Artists with work featured at this installation include American artist Lita Albuquerque, French-Tunisian artist eL Seed, Saudi Arabian artist Manal Aldowayan, and many others.

Albuquerque’s piece, “NAJMA (She Placed One Thousand Suns Over the Transparent Overlays of Space)” is focused on the fictive character Elyseria, a 25th-century female astronaut whose mission is to educate about the stars and their larger connection to navigation and astronomy.


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Visitors are invited to wander through a field of stars that follow the exact pattern and alignment specific to Al-ʿUla and the timing of the exhibition.

Aldowayan’s piece, “Now You See Me, Now You Don’t,” is meant to mimic the “words that a humble puddle in the desert of Saudi Arabia would say to any of her curious visitors,” the website explains.

The piece consists of trampoline puddles that light up at night.

Aldowayan highlights the urgent threat of climate change and the irresponsible contributions made by man regarding irrigation practices that have led to water scarcity and the impending water crisis.


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Emily RumballEmily Rumball

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