The curators and theme of the third edition of Desert X AlUla, set to run from 9 February to 23 March 2024, have been announced. Under the theme In the Presence of Absence, the exhibition will be curated by Maya El Khalil and Marcello Dantas.
This edition’s theme will explore the notions of the unseen and the inexpressible, presenting new perspectives of the desert landscape – often considered a place of desolation and monotony – by engaging with the atmospheric conditions of wind and light as well as the forces of time, history and myths woven into AlUla.
El Khalil is an acclaimed art advisor and curator whose work focuses on the MENA region, while Dantas is an award-winning curator with an interdisciplinary practice connecting science, history and technology.
El Khalil said: “We challenged the artists to adjust their perspective to encounter the unseen aspects of the place with reverence, attuning to the forces, rhythms and processes that shape the landscape in imperceptible ways.”
Dantas added: “Desert X AlUla invites artists to create original works with a unique canvas on an unprecedented scale. We tasked these artists with the mission of uncovering traces that transcend the limits of our sight, blurring the line between what we see and what we truly perceive, in the presence of absence.”
With Raneem Farsi and Neville Wakefield returning as artistic directors, Desert X AlUla 2024 will be staged across locations within the Wadi AlFann desert, Harrat Uwayrid and AlManshiyah Railway Station.
The exhibition takes place as part of the AlUla Arts Festival, themed More than meets the Eye and featuring an exhibition of modern and contemporary works by Saudi artists at the upcoming contemporary art museum, a show by Wadi AlFann commissioned artist Manal AlDowayan in Aljadidah Arts District and craft workshops at Madrasat Addeera as well as public art, cinema, art tours and artist residencies.
A collaboration between Desert X, which takes place in California’s Coachella Valley, and the Royal Commission for AlUla, Desert X AlUla engages with the principles of land art, taking the desert landscape as inspiration.