Theme announced for Saudi Arabia’s first-ever biennale art exhibition

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Saudi Arabia’s first biennale art exhibition will be themed “Feeling the Stones,” the Ad-Diriyah Biennale Foundation announced on Monday.

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The theme refers to the metaphor of “crossing the river by feeling the stones” popularized by former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping at a time of social and economic transformation in the 1980s.

“We hope that this exhibition will expose new generations of viewers to global contemporary art, not just as a mode of visual expression but as a space for critical thinking,” Philip Tinari, curator of the biennale said in a statement.

“The art scene in Saudi Arabia finds itself at a crucial juncture, and art has an important role to play in reflecting on key issues of the moment.”

The Ad-Diriyah Biennale is due to run from December 7, 2021 to March 7, 2022 at JAX district in Diriyah.

An art installation at JAX creative district in Ad-Diriyah. (Supplied)
An art installation at JAX creative district in Ad-Diriyah. (Supplied)

It will take place in a 27,000 square meters facility located in the recently-developed creative district of JAX in Diriyah.

More than 70 international and local artists are expected to exhibit their work.

The exhibition will include six sections examining themes that such as: memory and preservation, cultural transmission, social engagement, the Anthropocene, and the spiritual.

Saudi Arabia will host two biennales alternating each year: contemporary art (2021) and Islamic arts (2022).

“Saudi Arabia’s first art Biennale is an important milestone and builds on the unprecedented cultural transformation underway in the Kingdom,” Aya Albakree, chief executive of the Ad-Diriyah Biennale Foundation said in a statement.

“It is part of a wider plan to transform Ad-Diriyah into a global arts destination and encourage dialogue between artists from around the world in a dedicated environment that supports creative expression.”

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