Following the collaboration of Desert X and the Royal Commission for AlUla – the first site-responsive exhibition of its kind in Saudi Arabia – an eight episode podcast with featured artists is available to the public.
Saudi curators Raneem Farsi and Aya Alireza joined Desert X artistic director Neville Wakefield to activate the unique desert landscape of AlUla through installations by Lita Albuquerque, Manal AlDowayan, Zahrah AlGhamdi, Nasser AlSalem, Rashed AlShashai, Gisela Colon, Sherin Guirguis, Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim, Nadim Karam, eL Seed, Wael Shawky, Muhannad Shono, Superflex and Rayyane Tabet.
The podcast series features co-curators Wakefield, Farsi, and Alireza in conversation with participating artists about their experience of responding to the landscape and why they welcomed this collaboration.
“I think what we’re doing here is about art and it’s not about retreating, but it’s about making a statement to actually open up conversation, open up the doors. That goes beyond politics,” says Albuquerque.
Added artist Muhannad Shono, “The change happening in Saudi Arabia is incredible. We have all these young people… who have been developing their skills and ideas. For them to be coming out of the shadows and being respected and given opportunities across the country and internationally, is extremely humbling.”
The large-scale site-specific works by 14 participating artists have inspired new dialogue about the desert and themes that range from the passage of goods and ideas along the ancient incense route, the cultural memory that passage has left, and the natural resources that have shaped the region, both past and present.
The series of eight podcast episodes is free to download at desertx.org/podcast/alula and on iTunes and other podcast apps:
Episode 1. Desert X AlUla co-curators introduce the exhibition
Episode 2. Conversations with artists Nadim Karam, Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim and Gisela Colon
Episode 3. Artist Lita Albuquerque brings “NAJMA” to the Arabian desert
Episode 4. Artists Muhannad Shono and Zahra AlGhamdi draw lines in the sand
Episode 5. Artists Superflex and El Seed send love and engagement to Saudi Arabia
Episode 6. Artist Sherin Guirguis makes a crown from an anklet
Episode 7. Artist Manal AlDowayan sends a serious message, playfully
Episode 8. Curators and artists reflect on the impact of Desert X AlUla