The Diriyah Biennale Foundation has announced the curatorial team and dates of the second edition of the Islamic Arts Biennale (IAB). Taking place at the Western Hajj Terminal at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, the biennial is set to run from January to May 2025.
The artistic directors are Amin Jaffer, director of The Al Thani Collection; Julian Raby, former lecturer in Islamic art and architecture at the University of Oxford, former director of the National Museum of Asian Art at the Smithsonian Institution and a member of the curatorial team of the first edition of the IAB; and Abdul Rahman Azzam, an author and historian who served as senior expert advisor for AlMadar in 2023. Saudi artist Muhannad Shono, who represented the Kingdom at the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia in 2022 and participated in the 2023 edition of the IAB, has been selected as contemporary art curator.
This edition of the biennale builds on the theme of the inaugural iteration in 2023, Awwal Bait, through historical artefacts in dialogue with contemporary art. The 2025 edition will also see the return of AlMadar, a collective themed exhibition consisting of contributions from institutions with significant collections of Islamic art. AlMadar will feature a gallery entitled Homage and dedicated to celebrating the patronage behind Islamic art collections through works that reflect the highlights of Islamic civilisation. The pavilions detailing the histories of Mecca and Medinah will also be reinstated in the second edition.
IAB 2025 will engage with the architectural significance of its venue through a focus on architecture as an expression of Islamic culture. In conjunction with the biennale, the Diriyiah Biennale Foundation will inaugurate the AlMusalla Prize, an international competition for the architectural design of a mosque to be constructed on the exhibition site. Per the designated criteria for the prize, the mosque should be a modular space with a sustainable and versatile design, and which meets all the requirements for prayer. Further details, including the jury members, will be announced in the coming weeks.
HE Rakan Al-Touq, vice chairman of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation, said: “Following the remarkable success of its inaugural edition, the second iteration of the Islamic Arts Biennale returns to continue to build on the reverence of Islamic history and civilisation, and its celebration of the patrons and institutions who contributed immeasurably to the preservation of Islamic heritage.”
Aya Al-Bakree, CEO of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation, said: “An unwavering commitment to curatorial excellence sits at the heart of our foundation, and as we build on our inaugural edition’s enormous success, I am delighted to welcome a stellar team of curators whose international, transdisciplinary experience will contribute immeasurably to inspiring fresh perspectives on Islamic arts discourse both globally and in Saudi Arabia.”