desert X AlUla 2022 explores ideas of mirage and oasis

desert X AlUla 2022 explores ideas of mirage and oasis

THE SECOND EDITION OF DESERT X ALULA IS HERE

 

from now through march 30, 2022, desert X AlUla is taking place in saudi arabia. the second edition of international art exhibition features 15 artists exploring ideas of mirage and oasis under the theme sarab. following its inaugural edition in 2020 (read more on designboom here), the free and open to all site-responsive exhibition has been curated by reem fadda, raneem farsi and neville wakefield.

 

set amidst the majestic alula desert in saudi arabia, the artists were invited to consider the concepts of mirage and oasis, and to respond with new works that address dreams, camouflage, fiction, dis/appearance, extraction, illusion and myth while examining the dichotomy between natural and man-made.

desert X AlUla 2022 explores ideas of mirage and oasis
(main) jim denevan, angle of repose installation view, desert X AlUla 2022, courtesy of the artist and desert X AlUla, photo by lance gerber
(above) serge attukwei, gold falls installation view, desert X AlUla 2022, courtesy of the artist and desert X AlUla, photo by lance gerber

 

DRAWING ON PRINCIPLES OF LAND ART

 

building on the legacy of desert X in coachella, desert X AlUla draws on principles of land art, offering a profound opportunity to experience art on a monumental scale in dialogue with nature. this year’s exhibition takes place in a different location in the AlUla desert in comparison to the previous edition, and has been situated in the al mutadil valley, with visitors invited to wander through and experience landscapes as they weave their journey between the works.

 

‘the desert concepts of mirage and oasis have long been tied to ideas of survival, perseverance, desire and wealth,’ said reem fadda, curatorial advisor to desert X AlUla 2022. ‘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. under the theme of ‘sarab’, the artists presented in the exhibition – all of whom have spent time in the alula region – have developed ambitious and strikingly innovative, site- specific responses, all of which address profound issues, that emerge from the local context but also resonate with audiences the world-over.’

desert X AlUla 2022 explores ideas of mirage and oasis
claudia comte, dark suns, bright waves installation view, desert X AlUla 2022, courtesy of the artist and desert X AlUla, photo by lance gerber

 

serge attukwei clottey’s installation addresses the experience of globalization, migration and water equity by shrouding slabs of rock in meticulously crafted tapestries made from yellow kufuor gallons, which are plastic containers used in ghana for storing and transporting water.

 

claudia comte’s work features a progression of walls imposing their architectural presence within the natural order of the alula canyons, with each carrying a section of a larger algorithmic pattern relating to the waveforms that shape the sound and surface of the desert.

desert X AlUla 2022 explores ideas of mirage and oasis
zeinab alashemi, camouflage 2.0 installation view, desert X AlUla 2022, courtesy of the artist and desert X AlUla, photo by lance gerber

 

shezad dawood’s work explores ideas of deep time and the geo-biological relationship between the desert floor and nearby red sea through a pair of coral-like forms whose temperature-sensitive surfaces reflect the effects of climate change and mankind’s continuing struggle to find a sustainable relationship with a rapidly changing ecosystem.

 

land artist jim denevan creates ephemeral drawings whose interlocking patterns speak to the shifts in magnitude and scale that so often shape our experience of the desert and our attempts to position ourselves within the vastness of unbounded space.

desert X AlUla 2022 explores ideas of mirage and oasis
abdullah alOthman, geography of hope installation view, desert X AlUla 2022, courtesy of the artist and desert X AlUla, photo by lance gerber

 

stephanie deumer has created an underground greenhouse; hinting at the lush sanctuary of native plants below, a large puddle-shaped array of solar panels mounted flush with the desert floor creates an energy feedback loop where the energy of the sun is captured, stored and transformed through photosynthesis into growth and transformation.

 

sultan bin fahad’s mud structure is shaped like a desert kite, with mirrors on the façade that create the look of a mirage, and houses an urn-like sculpture embossed with four protective symbols traditionally used in nabatean tombs.

desert-X-alula-2022-designboom-005

khalil rabah, grounding installation view, desert X AlUla 2022, courtesy of the artist and desert X AlUla, photo by lance gerber

zeinab alhashemi’s interactive sculpture uses discarded camel skins on an abstract, geometric base, resembling a rock formation in the desert; like a camouflage, these camel hide sculptures merge into the mountains.

 

alicja kwade’s architectural structures reflect and frame the natural artifacts she encountered on the desert floor, which she rearranged and supplemented to create constantly changing perspectives that strike the fine line between reality and illusion.

 

shaikha al mazrou’s lengthy steel-made inflated structures are wedged in the voids of rocks, tensely balanced in the landscape, occupying the liminal state between stasis and movement, creating a silent yet imposing composition suspended in inertia.

desert X AlUla 2022 explores ideas of mirage and oasis
shezad dawood, coral alchemy (dipsastrea speciosa) installation view, desert X AlUla 2022, courtesy of the artist and desert X AlUla, photo by lance gerber

 

abdullah alothman’s piece references theories of light refraction rooting back to the early days of desert civilisation and culture, with stainless steel plinths that interact with the light and create a radiant space that seeks to manifest the experience of capturing the mirage for the first time.

 

khalil rabah creates a mirage of an orchard of olive trees, which stand here in the desert as living things displaced from their indigenous land and longing to be repatriated, as an exploration of territory, survival and citizenship.

desert X AlUla 2022 explores ideas of mirage and oasis
stephanie deumer, under the same sun installation view, desert X AlUla 2022, courtesy of the artist and desert X AlUla, photo by lance gerber

 

monika sosnowska’s sculptural exploration of memory speaks to alula’s historical position as a hub and passage of trade and its more recent cultural re-awakening; using heritage rails from the hejaz railway, that ran from damascus to medina, the linear steel forms have been transformed into giant dried grasses replete with possibilities of growth and transformation.

 

ayman zedani’s soundscape installation in a rocky cavern comprises horizontal sculptural wires and an audio projection of music, voices and footsteps, creating a cacophony of sounds that add to the chimes of nature.

desert X AlUla 2022 explores ideas of mirage and oasis
dana awartani, where the dwellers lay installation view, desert X AlUla 2022, courtesy of the artist and desert X AlUla, photo by lance gerber

desert X AlUla 2022 explores ideas of mirage and oasis
shadia alem, I have seen thousands of stars and one fell in AlUla installation view, desert X AlUla 2022, courtesy of the artist and desert X AlUla, photo by lance gerber

desert X AlUla 2022 explores ideas of mirage and oasis
alicia kwade, in blur, installation view, desert X AlUla 2022, courtesy of the artist and desert X AlUla, photo by lance gerber

desert X AlUla 2022 explores ideas of mirage and oasis
ayman zedani, the valley of the desert keepers installation view, desert X AlUla 2022, courtesy of the artist and desert X AlUla, photo by lance gerber

 

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desert X AlUla 2022 explores ideas of mirage and oasis
 
desert X AlUla 2022 explores ideas of mirage and oasis
 
desert X AlUla 2022 explores ideas of mirage and oasis
 
desert X AlUla 2022 explores ideas of mirage and oasis
 
desert X AlUla 2022 explores ideas of mirage and oasis
 
desert X AlUla 2022 explores ideas of mirage and oasis
 
desert X AlUla 2022 explores ideas of mirage and oasis
 
desert X AlUla 2022 explores ideas of mirage and oasis
 

project info:

 

name: desert x AlUla

dates: now through march 30, 2022

location: AlUla, saudi arabia

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