The oasis art event known as Desert X AlUla returns for its third edition in the ancient Arabian Peninsula. The annual exhibition brings together a collection of ethereal site-responsive artworks made by celebrated and emerging creative figures from around the world. Curated by Maya El Khalil and Marcello Dantas, this year’s iteration is dubbed “In the Presence of Absence,” which invites artists and audiences to contemplate empty, “invisible” spaces and how the works on view offer new dialogues with the surrounding desert.
The latest Desert X AlUla will be mapped across three locations for the first time, Wadi AlFann, Harrat Uwayrid, and the alManshiyah Plaza, each area challenging its participants “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,” noted El Khalil in a statement. “Their works diagram and engage ephemeral phenomena like the movement of light or the erosion of wind, becoming performed by these forces to reveal the monumental significance of what might at first seem absent.”
Standout installations include a football pitch by Ayman Yossri Daydban, a melting sculpture that mirrors the desert varnish by Aseel AlYaqoub, as well as an iridescent tunnel by South Korean conceptual artist, Kimsooja. “The desert, often perceived as a place of emptiness, gradually unveils its intricate layers of existence as one immerses in it,” Dantas added. “These layers manifest through the ever-shifting terrain, the intricate dance of time, the evidences of life, and the transformative power of climate. 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.”
Desert X AlUla 2024 will take place from February 9 to March 23. Please visit the organization’s website for more information regarding programming.