Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale returns for second edition  

Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale returns for second edition  
Diriyah Biennale Foundation Exterior. (Supplied)
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Updated 02 February 2024
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Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale returns for second edition  

Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale returns for second edition  
  • ‘After Rain’ features 92 artists and is led by a team of international and Saudi curators  

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s flourishing cultural scene gains further impetus this month with the return of the Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale. Taking place in the Saudi capital of Riyadh from Feb. 20 to May 24, this is the second edition of the contemporary art event after its inaugural showing in December 2021.  

Titled “After Rain,” the biennale will feature the work of 92 artists from 43 countries, of whom 30 are from the Gulf region. Such a vibrant mix of artists from around the world supports the biennale’s mission to provide a platform for contemporary art to foster dialogue between Saudi Arabia and other parts of the world.  

The 2024 biennale centers around ideas relating to the natural environment and the impact it has on human life. If one is living in an oasis in the desert, for example, when it rains it has an immediate effect on the surroundings. Drops of rain nourish the earth and revitalize it. So the title “After the Rain,” explains the biennale’s German-born lead curator and artistic director Ute Meta Bauer, is about renewal and hope — reflective of the energy and change of today’s Saudi Arabia.  




Ahmed Mater in his Riyadh studio in June 2022. Mater is one of the Saudi artists participating in this year's Diriyah Biennale. (AFP)

“The second edition of the Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale,” Bauer tells Arab News, “examines the role that contemporary art can foster in a society that is (in) a period of rapid change.” 

The event will take place across seven halls and numerous terraces and courtyards in a series of repurposed former warehouses located in the JAX District of Diriyah, situated along Wadi Hanifa. 

Led by Bauer, the curatorial team includes Wejdan Reda of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation; Rahul Gudipudi, who will act as adjunct curator alongside co-curators Rose Lejeune and Anca Rujoiu; Ana Salazar; Amina Diab; Dian Arumningtyas; and Alanood AlSudairi. 

“The artists’ experiences stood central in the preparation of ‘After Rain,’” Reda says. “We organized various trips to different parts of Riyadh and the Kingdom to engage with professionals across various disciplines to explore various offerings around the country.” 

Those excursions included visits to Dammam, Khobar, Al-hasaa, Riyadh, Jeddah, Khamis Mushait, Abha, and Rijaal Almaa, and centered around fostering conversations and enhancing collaboration between Saudi artists of various generations to further learn about the country’s rich and diverse cultural scene. 




Mohammad Al-Faraj at Hayy Jameel in Jeddah in early 2023 Al-Faraj is one of the Saudi artists participating in this year's Diriyah Biennale. (Supplied)

“It is our deeply held belief and ambition as a foundation to deliver world-class international platforms that highlight the transformative power of 

the arts in Saudi Arabian society,” Aya Al-Bakree, the CEO of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation said in a statement. “‘After Rain’ opens a new chapter for the Diriyah Biennale Foundation, where a diverse and multi-generational group of artists come together. We hope to ignite conversations, broaden perspectives, and, above all, engage wider audiences than ever before with the arts.” 

Participating Saudi artists include Abdulrahman Al-Soliman, Asma Bahmim, Mohammad Al-Faraj, and Ahmed Mater. The featured works cover a range of media and diverse artistic practices exploring a range of subjects, including historical, archaeological, and environmental issues, among many others. 

“Our aim is to engage deeply with the location and the conversations taking place here, while simultaneously fostering new connections within the Middle East region and beyond,” said Bauer. 

Many of the works will reflect on — and engage with — the unprecedented period of transformation currently taking place in Saudi Arabia. 

Among the newly commissioned works will be a collaborative project between Mater, one of Saudi Arabia’s most important artists, and Berlin-based photographer and filmmaker Armin Linke. The two artists have embarked on a long-term partnership that will see them jointly documenting Saudi futurism since the 1940s. Both artists conducted research into the archives of Saudi Aramco, the Kingdom’s petroleum and natural gas company, located in Dhahran in the eastern province.  




The biennale curatorial team Top (L-R) Ana Salazar, Dian Arumningtyas, Ute Meta Bauer, Wejdan Reda, Anca Rujoiu Bottom (L-R) Alanood Alsudairi, Rose Lejeune, Rahul Gudipudi. (Diriyah Biennale Foundation)

On a more spiritual note, the Jeddah-based Yemeni artist Sara Abdu will create a series of towers made from hand-crafted bars of soap to explore the region’s cleansing rituals.  

As this year’s biennale will be running throughout Ramadan, many of the works focus on the communal values of the holy month, such as the sharing of food, for example. Britto Arts Trust will invites the audience to harvest, cook, and eat in a bamboo architectural structure, while NJOKOBOK, a collaboration between artists Youssou Diop and Apolonija Sustersic, will operate a juice and tea bar serving locally produced hibiscus and ginger juice, alongside Senegalese mint tea. 

Additionally, Lucy and Jorge Orta will invite the public to participate in a meal in the streets of the JAX District, connecting the structure in which the Biennale is housed with artist studios and other artistic platforms within the district.  

Another interactive highlight will be large-scale artworks that incorporate contemporary art references with traditional Saudi art forms. These will be stationed outdoors around the JAX district. One example is a work by Bosnian-born Azra Aksamija in the form of a 70-meter-long canopy of recycled felt, inspired by Saudi textiles and incorporating traditional Sadu weaving techniques. 

Dutch architect Anne Holtrop, meanwhile, will build a structure from recycled glass sheets produced by Saudi manufacturers.  

Beyond the themes of renewal, hope and the natural environment, a great emphasis has been placed on knowledge, discovery and cross-cultural dialogue.  

“The biennale is a meeting ground for young voices and established figures,” emphasizes Bauer. “It feeds off and nurtures the cultural ecosystem in which it is embedded.” 

Innovation, both artistic and intellectual, with a focus on history, creativity and nature is, then, the mission of “After Rain” — for rainfall promises a period of fertility, regeneration and hope. 


Christie’s to hold ‘Art of Islamic and Indian Worlds’ auction in London

Christie’s to hold ‘Art of Islamic and Indian Worlds’ auction in London
Updated 21 April 2024
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Christie’s to hold ‘Art of Islamic and Indian Worlds’ auction in London

Christie’s to hold ‘Art of Islamic and Indian Worlds’ auction in London

LONDON: Christie’s has announced a spring sale of “Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds including Rugs and Carpets,” which will be presented during a live auction at the British auction house’s London headquarters on April 25.

“This season the sale offers a curated selection of 261 lots including four unique collections,” Christie’s said in a statement. “Illustrating the breadth of craftsmanship across 10 centuries, works date from the 10th century to the 20th century and cover a diversity of artistic traditions.”

The works include paintings, ceramics, metal work, works on paper, arms, textiles and rugs and carpets from across the Islamic world, spanning the Silk Route linking China to the West.

A number of private collections will be auctioned, including early Iranian ceramics from a private American collection, as well as Persian and Indian paintings from the collection of art specialists Charles and Regina Slatkin that features a rare work by the Bukhara artist Mahmud Muzahhib.

The carpet section of the auction “is led by Sultans of Silk: The George Farrow Collection, which is a comprehensive study of the very best of silk rug weaving of the late 19th and early 20th centuries gathered over forty years by the late George Farrow,” Christie’s said in its statement. The collection will offer more than 40 finely woven silk carpets.

 

 

According to Christie’s, Farrow was a British collector of silk rugs and his “expansive collection” comprises a variety of silk weavings from different origins.

Sara Plumbly, head of Islamic and Indian art at Christie’s, said: “We are delighted to offer a wide variety of works of art from across the Islamic and Indian worlds this season (and) we are particularly excited about three private collections, all with long provenance, that highlight the breadth and diversity of the artistic traditions of Iran — from Safavid textiles and painting to medieval pottery.”

Louise Broadhurst, international head of rugs and carpets at Christie’s, said the auction house “is honored to offer the collection of George Farrow, whose passion for antique silk rugs is reflected in the illuminating breadth of examples gathered over four decades, which include highlights rarely seen on today’s market.”

The “Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds including Rugs and Carpets” is open to the public ahead of the live auction from April 21-24 at Christie’s in London.


Sofia Boutella dazzles at London ‘Rebel Moon’ screening

Sofia Boutella dazzles at London ‘Rebel Moon’ screening
Updated 20 April 2024
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Sofia Boutella dazzles at London ‘Rebel Moon’ screening

Sofia Boutella dazzles at London ‘Rebel Moon’ screening

DUBAI: French-Algerian actress Sofia Boutella turned heads at the UK premiere of her film “Rebel Moon — Part 2: The Scargiver” in London this week.

Boutella wore a black suit from British fashion designer Stella McCartney with a cropped satin blazer and low-rise straight-leg trousers. She styled her short, dark hair in loose waves, complemented by dramatic cat-eye makeup.

In the sci-fi adventure — a sequel to last year’s “Rebel Moon — Part One: A Child of Fire” — which debuted on Netflix April 19, a peaceful colony on the edge of a galaxy finds itself threatened by the armies of a tyrannical ruling force.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Sofia Boutella (@sofisia7)

Kora, played by Boutella, has assembled a small band of warriors — outsiders, insurgents, peasants and orphans of war from different worlds who share a common need for redemption and revenge, and must band together to fight the Motherworld.

Snyder previously spoke about the two-part epic space opera at Netflix’s Tudum global fan event in Brazil, where he showcased a behind-the-scenes look into the making of the film, based on a concept he has been developing since college.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Sofia Boutella (@sofisia7)

“I’ve been working on this story for quite a while,” Snyder said on stage, according to Deadline. “It’s about a group of farmers on the edge of the galaxy that get visited by the armies of the Motherworld, who are the bad guys. The farmers have to decide to fight or submit.”

He continued: “I don’t want to give it all away, but if they had decided to fight, let’s say that was an option, they would have to travel around the galaxy to find warriors to fight with them. And so, it had us traveling quite a bit.”

Kora is not Algiers-born Boutella’s first role as a sword-wielding extraterrestrial. The actress, who at the age of 10 fled to Paris with her family during the Algerian civil war, is known for her breakout performance in the Oscar-nominated film, “Star Trek Beyond,” in which she portrayed the fierce alien warrior, Jaylah.


Rami Kadi unveils couture collection in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla

Rami Kadi unveils couture collection in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla
Updated 20 April 2024
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Rami Kadi unveils couture collection in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla

Rami Kadi unveils couture collection in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla

DUBAI: Lebanese designer Rami Kadi presented his latest haute couture collection on Friday in AlUla with star-studded guests. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Rami Kadi (@ramikadi_pvt)

 

His summer/spring designs offered something for everyone. The dresses showcased a variety of necklines, ranging from halter gowns and plunging V-shaped dresses to off-the-shoulder styles, strapless designs and more. 

 

 

The dresses, crafted from fabrics such as tulle, chiffon and crepe, exuded voluminous, glitzy and metallic aesthetics. However, there were also satin options and simpler designs available.

 

 

The collection boasted a palette of pastel hues including pink, peach, blue, green, purple, and an array of other colors such as off-white, beige, silver and gold.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Rami Kadi (@ramikadi_pvt)

 

The show was a collaboration between Kadi and AlUla moments. It was attended by Lebanese superstar Najwa Karam, Saudi actress Mila Al-Zahrani, Tunisian actress Dorra Zarouk, and Saudi influencers Nojoud Al-Rumaihi and Lama Alakeel.


Hollywood Arab Film Festival: Showcasing Arab cinema in Los Angeles

Hollywood Arab Film Festival: Showcasing Arab cinema in Los Angeles
Updated 20 April 2024
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Hollywood Arab Film Festival: Showcasing Arab cinema in Los Angeles

Hollywood Arab Film Festival: Showcasing Arab cinema in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES: The third annual Hollywood Arab Film Festival began this week, bringing the best of 2024’s Arab cinema to Los Angeles and giving fans a chance to see the films in theaters as well as introducing a new audience to the Arab world’s top talent.

The event, which runs until April 21, was attended by a number of celebrity guests including Egyptian producer and screenwriter Mohamed Hefzy, Tunisian actor Dhaffer L’Abidine, renowned Egyptian star Elham Shahin and Egyptian producer Tarek El-Ganainy.

 

 

At the event, Hefty said: “Arab cinema really needs a platform to tell our stories and to show who we are, our identity, our hopes and dreams, our pains, and all the different social topics that are tackled in some of the films that are being presented are maybe more relevant today than ever. So I think it’s a great opportunity to have this dialogue.”

Hefzy’s film “Hajjan” was showing at the event. It is a Saudi Arabia-based film directed by Egyptian filmmaker Abu Bakr Shawky.

“Hajjan is a film about a young boy who got a very special connection to his camel, who has a brother who was a camel jockey and races,” Hefzy said. “And, one day when something really unexpected happens to his brother, and shatters his world, it forces him to step into his brother’s shoes and become a camel jockey, and so starts racing himself.”

The movie is a co-production between the Kingdom’s King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, or Ithra, and Hefzy’s Film Clinic.

“It was a film made in Saudi Arabia with Saudi talents and actors with an Egyptian director, but with the Saudi co-writer and Saudi actors and shot mostly in Saudi Arabia,” Hefzy said. “So I think it’s, it was a great experience, and learned a lot about Saudi Arabia, learned a lot about the culture.”

The festival featured cinema from various Arab countries, presenting films from 16 different nations. Marlin Soliman, strategic planning director of HAFF, highlighted the inclusion of six feature films, ten short films and six student films.

Spanning five days, HAFF offered its audience a vibrant experience, including a red-carpet affair, panel discussions on filmmaking and diversity in Hollywood, and, of course, screenings of high-profile films.

The festival also saw several filmmakers singing the praises of Saudi Arabia’s expanding film industry.

L’Abidine, the writer and director of “To My Son,” said: “I’m thrilled to be back again with my second feature film ‘To My Son,’ a Saudi film… I think there is a great evolution of Saudi cinema that’s been happening in the last few years.”


Dave Chappelle to perform at Abu Dhabi Comedy Week

Dave Chappelle to perform at Abu Dhabi Comedy Week
Updated 19 April 2024
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Dave Chappelle to perform at Abu Dhabi Comedy Week

Dave Chappelle to perform at Abu Dhabi Comedy Week

DUBAI: US award-winning comedian Dave Chappelle is set to perform in the UAE at the Abu Dhabi Comedy Week on May 23, organizers announced on Friday.

The capital city’s first-ever comedy festival will run from May 18-26 at Yas Island’s Etihad Arena.

Chappelle will join a long list of comedians performing at the event, including Chris Tucker, Aziz Ansari, Tom Segura, Jo Koy, Tommy Tiernan, Kevin Bridges, Andrew Santino, Bobby Lee, Andrew Schulz, Bassem Youssef and Maz Jobrani.

With numerous accolades and awards to his name, including multiple Grammy Awards and Emmy Awards, Chappelle is renowned for his wit and fearless commentary on contemporary issues.

While May 23 will mark Chappelle’s inaugural performance in Abu Dhabi, he has previously captivated audiences with two sold-out shows in Dubai.