The second edition of the international art exhibition features 15 artists exploring ideas of mirage and oasis under the theme sarab
Claudia Comte, Desert X AlUla 2022. Photography by Lance Gerber
Words by Sonia Zhuravlyova
Desert X AlUla, a site-responsive, international art exhibition, is currently underway in AlUla, an ancient desert in Saudi Arabia. Home to the Unesco World Heritage site, Hegra, built by the Nabataeans more than 2,000 years ago, the AlUla region has been at the crossroads of cultural exchange for millennia.
Curators Reem Fadda, Raneem Farsi and Neville Wakefield invited 15 Saudi and international artists to respond and engage with the desert’s culture, history and natural beauty by exploring ideas of mirage and oasis.
Alicja Kwade, Desert X AlUla 2022. Photography by Lance Gerber
Participating artists have created new, site-specific installations that address dreams, camouflage, fiction, dis/appearance, illusion and myth, while also examining the dichotomy between the natural and man-made worlds.
For instance, installation artist Shadia Alem’s sculpture adapts the art of origami, applying the basic principles of geometry to create shapes that reference the Arabian desert’s literature, mathematics and mythology.
Shadia Alem, Desert X AlUla 2022. Photography by Lance Gerber
Palestinian-Saudi artist Dana Awartani’s sculpture draws inspiration from the vernacular architecture of AlUla, taking the form of a concave geometric sculpture that nods to the Nabataean tombs and the shapes of the surrounding mountains, gorges, caverns and rock formations.
Ghanaian artist Serge Attukwei Clottey’s installation addresses globalisation, migration and water equity by shrouding slabs of rock in tapestries made from yellow kufuor gallons – plastic containers used in Ghana for storing and transporting water.
Serge Attukwei Clottey, Desert X AlUla 2022. Photography by Lance Gerber
‘Alula has always been at the crossroads of trade and culture,’ says co-curator Neville Wakefield. ‘Its landscape and history have and continue to draw people from across the globe.
‘In captivating the imagination of artists and travellers alike, AlUla presents itself as the perfect site for an exhibition that explores the idea of the desert as a place of cultural interaction, dialogue and exchange.’
Desert X AlUla runs until 30 March 2022
Get a curated collection of design and architecture news in your inbox by signing up to our ICON Weekly newsletter