Desert X AlUla explores ideas of mirage and oasis under the theme of Sarab

by Archilovers
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Desert X AlUla, free and open to all, is a recurring, site-responsive, international art exhibition taking place in AlUla, a globally significant ancient desert region in the Arabian Peninsula.

Following its inaugural exhibition in 2020, Desert X AlUla returns for its second edition until 30 March 2022, placing visionary contemporary artworks by 15 Saudi and international artists amidst the extraordinary desert landscape of AlUla, a majestic region in north-west Saudi Arabia of natural and creative heritage steeped in a legacy of cross- cultural exchange.

Under the theme of Sarab, this year’s exhibition explores ideas of mirage and oasis, both intrinsic to desert history and culture, that have taken on complex worldwide significance over time. Invited to consider these ancient concepts, participating artists have responded with new works that address dreams, camouflage, fiction, dis/appearance, extraction, illusion and myth, while also examining the dichotomy between the natural and man-made worlds.


The exhibiting artists are:

Shadia Alem, b. Saudi Arabia, based in Paris.

Dana Awartani, b. 1987, Saudi Arabia, based in Jeddah.

Serge Attukwei Clottey, b. 1985, Ghana, based in Accra.

Claudia Comte, b. 1983, Switzerland, based in Basel.

Shezad Dawood, b. 1974, United Kingdom, based in London.

Jim Denevan, b. 1961, United States, based in Santa Cruz.

Stephanie Deumer, b. 1989, Canada, based in Los Angeles.

Sultan bin Fahad, b. 1971, Saudi Arabia, based in Los Angeles.

Zeinab Alhashemi, b. 1985, United Arab Emirates, based in Dubai.

Alicja Kwade, b. 1979, Poland, based in Berlin.

Shaikha Al Mazrou, b. 1988, United Arab Emirates, based in Dubai.

Abdullah AlOthman, b. 1985, Saudi Arabia, based in Riyadh.

Khalil Rabah, b. 1961, Palestine, based in Ramallah.

Monika Sosnowska, b. 1972, Poland, based in Warsaw.

Ayman Zedani, b. 1984, Saudi Arabia, based in Riyadh.

Dana Awartani’s sculpture draws inspiration from the vernacular architecture of AlUla, taking the form of a concave geometric sculpture that references the Nabataean tombs and mimics the shapes of surrounding mountains, gorges, caverns and rock formations.

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Serge Attukwei Clottey’s installation addresses the experience of globalisation, 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.

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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.

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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.

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Alicja Kwade’s architectural structures reflect and frame the natural artefacts 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.

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Desert X AlUla is a collaboration between Desert X and the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) established to advance new cultural dialogue through art. The first site-responsive exhibition of its kind in Saudi Arabia, it fosters dialogue and exchange between artists, curators and international and local communities, shaped by a curatorial vision that takes the desert as its inspiration.
Building on the legacy of Desert X, which takes place in California’s Coachella Valley, 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 AlUla to the previous edition, situated in the Al Mutadil valley, with visitors invited to wander through and experience spectacular landscapes as they weave their journey between the works.

Desert X Alula 2021: an open living museum that inspires creativity 



Photos ©Lance Gerber