The second edition of the site-responsive desert exhibition features 15 artists exploring ideas of mirage and oasis
Desert X AlUla is a site-responsive exhibition situated in an ancient desert region in the Arabian peninsula. Curated by Reem Fadda, Raneem Farsi and Neville Wakefield, under the title Sarab, the show draws on newly commissioned works by 15 Saudi and international artists to explore ideas of mirage and oasis.
The theme of this year’s show – Desert X AlUla’s second edition – which runs from 11 February to 30 March and is free and open to the public, responds to the history and culture of its desert location. In turn, the participating artists have created works which explore dreams, mythmaking, and the relationship between natural and manmade worlds.
Reem Fadda said: ‘The desert concepts of mirage and oasis have long been tied to ideas of survival, perseverance, desire and wealth. The oasis pertains to ideas of finding prosperity or heaven, while the mirage is a universal symbol of the mysteries of imagination and reality. They also connote the incomprehensible beauty and abundance of nature in its most bereft state – the desert – and humans’ obsessive desire to capture and control it’.
The participating artists are: Shadia Alem, Dana Awartani, Serge Attukwei Clottey, Claudia Comte, Shezad Dawood, Jim Denevan, Stephanie Deumer, Sultan bin Fahad, Zeinab Alhashemi, Alicja Kwade, Shaikha Al Mazrou, Abdullah AlOthman, Khalil Rabah, Monika Sosnowska, and Ayman Zedani.
Artworks made in response to the local context carry citations that range from the literary history of the Arabian desert to the vernacular architecture of the region. For instance, Claudia Comte’s piece references waveforms that shape the sound and surface of the desert, while Shezad Dawood works in ideas of deep time through temperature-sensitive coral-like forms. Meanwhile, Stephanie Deumer offers a subterranean greenhouse, and Abdullah AlOthman weaves in theories of light refraction dating back to ancient desert civilisation.
Desert X AlUla is a partnership between Desert X (based in California’s Coachella Valley) and the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU), which seeks to foster exchange between international and local artworlds, and work within the traditions and history of land art, inspired by its desert surroundings.