Arts alula continues to set the standard for engaging contemporary artists
- The latest artist residency programme in AlUla is now underway
- Six selected artists have 12 weeks in situ through December 2022
- Artists’ works will contribute to the reimagination of the destination
The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) is launching its latest Artist Residency programme in partnership with the French Agency for AlUla Development (Afalula).
The Artist Residency, which began on 3rd October 2022, will nurture creativity, engage communities and shine a new light on the beauty and regeneration of AlUla’s unique heritage and mesmerizing landscapes. It aims to foster dialogue, exchange and collaboration between the artists in residence and the scientific community on the ground in AlUla, as well as local practitioners and members of the local community.
Shortlisted from a group of 16, and original list of 35, the programme’s six artists will encounter a unique, creative environment as a group, and will research and absorb local heritage and culture, ultimately playing a role in the transformation of AlUla and the rebirth of its Oasis. Their time of exchange and on-site work with archaeologists, botanists, water specialists, craftsmen, oasian agro-systems specialists, perfume scientists will provide them insights into the workings of the land. This in-depth collaboration with the experts will give them the opportunity to be part of the research that is currently undertaken in AlUla – a living museum. A mix of three women and three men, there are artists from Saudi Arabia, France, Morocco, Philippines, UAE and USA.
The selection criteria was based on a mix of the artists’ experiences and technical abilities; their initial research projects, alignment with wider RCU and AlUla objectives, and their ability to work in an unusual environment was evaluated by a judging panel encompassing Nora Aldabal, Executive Director of Arts and Creative Industries, RCU, Ali Al Ghazzawi, Creative Opportunities Lead, RCU, Sumantro Ghose, Artistic programming director, RCU, Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi founder of Barjeel Art Foundation, Iwona Blazwick, Chair of the Public Art Expert Panel, RCU, and Arnaud Morand, Head of Innovation & Creation, Afalula.
The artists will undertake a diversity of practices to celebrate this new AlUla Artist Residency, including visual arts, mixed media, installations, poetry, performance and documentary photography. The artists will regularly animate workshops and take part in public talks throughout the programme. They will also showcase their ongoing research through an Open Studio in December, proposing a fresh look on how to give a new lease of life to the land and to make sure it is connected to its fabled history. In Mabiti AlUla, a palm-grove and a guesthouse in the heart of AlUla’s oasis, the artists will bring back forms, gestures, age-old skills, traditions, and legends from past civilizations such as the Dadanites and the Nabataeans in an effort to also question the place of the artist in such fast transforming, future-oriented projects.
Nora Aldabal, Executive Director of Arts and Creative Industries, RCU stated:
The latest Artist Residency will build on the foundations of our pilot programme, and is our next step in shaping the ever-evolving legacy of AlUla. The local community of AlUla and the artists will both play fundamental roles in combining the essence of place, local histories and artistic skill. Additionally, whatever their angle of approach or their preferred technique, this research residency will offer these six artists an exceptional and inimitable field of investigation.
Iwona Blazwick, Chair of the Public Art Expert Panel, RCU commented: The artist residency programme will give these six artists the most precious commodity of all, which is time. It’s an opportunity to leave everything they are familiar with behind, and in turn negotiate a place and community that is completely new. The ambition is twofold – to create dialogue that transcends geo-politics and cultural differences, and to see what happens when you invite someone from outside into this rich environment.
Ali Al Ghazzawi, Creative Opportunities Lead, RCU, said: AlUla’s new Artist Residency programme will further the transformation of AlUla into a globally-renowned centre for art and culture and a hub for creativity. The programme will continue to contribute to AlUla’s cultural diversity and build understanding between countries and cultures; bringing together the best in artists, creatives and researchers.
Arnaud Morand, Head of Creation and Innovation, French Agency for AlUla Development commented:
We are thrilled to unveil the participating artists to this new residency program. With this opus our intention is to enable creatives to research, to explore the unlimited possibilities of AlUla rather than focusing on production per se. The originality of our initial residency program relied in co-operation between artists with the impressive array of scientific experts working in the Oasis. This new adventure will build on this collective knowledge and explore further the exchanges with AlUla local communities. We want to nurture mutual inspiration between local narratives, skills, endemic knowledge, and artistic practices through a variety of mediums and approaches, from visual art to poetry.