One on One

Farah Abushullaih

2 min read

Farah Abushullaih, Head of Museums at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra), discusses the sixth edition of the Ithra Art Prize and the institution’s collaboration with the Royal Commission for AlUla.

Canvas: What brought about the partnership between Ithra and the Royal Commission for AlUla?

Farah Abushullaih: Ithra is a firm believer in collaboration to accelerate development, and excited to work with organisations that share its vision. Cultural entities across the Kingdom are working towards the shared goal of developing the creative ecosystem and enhancing the quality of life under Vision 2030. The 6th edition of the Ithra Art Prize focuses on outdoor installation art and sculpture, and AlUla – with its rich legacy and cultural heritage – is the ideal setting.

Will the partnership continue beyond this special edition?

RCU and Ithra – two of Saudi Arabia’s premier cultural institutions – are collaborating on multiple fronts to accelerate the growth of the Kingdom’s creative industries, with the Ithra Art Prize being just one of the projects under the partnership. More will be announced soon. The Ithra Art Prize 6th edition with Arts AlUla is under the umbrella of the wider Ithra-RCU partnership and is one of many future endeavours that we hope to collaborate on.

How does this collaboration encourage, promote and expand the arts and cultural industries across Saudi Arabia?

The partnership is focused on boosting strategic talent and skills capabilities in the Kingdom’s creative and cultural industries. It is built on Ithra’s expertise in presenting curated courses, training programmes and other cultural activities, and on RCU’s rich legacy of placing art and creativity at the heart of an exciting visitor destination. We’re excited to collaborate on multiple fields beyond art, including filmmaking and research.

This edition will focus specifically on outdoor installation art and sculpture through the theme Art in the Landcape. How does this brief differ from previous editions?

Previous editions were open to all mediums and artforms – as long as the proposed work was not ephemeral. The theme was chosen by our partners and is a running theme for Arts AlUla activities due to their positioning as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

What are the challenges when creating an outdoor installation or sculpture commission?

We see this year’s theme as a unique opportunity for artists to push their creative limits. Creating a large-scale artwork requires a different set of skills and expertise, and adding the environmental component ups the ante. We’re excited to see what they propose.

Who is eligible to apply for the 6th edition of the Ithra Art Prize?

The Ithra art prize is open to adult contemporary artists and art collectives from or living in Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, UAE and Yemen.

What support is given to the winner to realise their project?

The winner will receive a monetary prize of USD 100,000, while Ithra will also cover production costs up to USD 400,000 to include production, shipping, insurance and project management costs.

How was the jury chosen this year?

The jury has been selected based on the individuals’ expertise in landscape art and as members of the public art community.

What opportunity does exhibiting the work at the AlUla Arts Festival in February present the winner?

The work will be a highlight at one of the most exciting cultural events in the region, in an iconic destination that is as unique as the artwork will be.

Where will the winning work eventually reside?

All Ithra Art Prize winners’ artworks become part of Ithra’s permanent collection for contemporary art.