This week, another milestone was achieved by Saudi Arabia in the field of arts and culture. For the first time in its recent history, artists from the Kingdom exhibited their work at the biennial UM-Festival for Contemporary Art, Literature, and Music in the Uckermark region of Germany. In a picturesque area with striking lakes and lush greenery located northeast of Berlin, visitors flocked to see art by local and international artists, including two from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
According to the festival’s official website, UM takes place once every two years, inviting visual artists “to get to know the Uckermark region and its people over the course of several months, and incorporate this experience into their work. The climax of each cycle is a three-day festival. In addition to presentation of the site-specific works developed by participating artists, selected musicians and writers are invited to read or perform from their recent work. By presenting works at a wide range of sites in the region […] the UM-Festival hopes to show not only the artists, but also the region, with all its beauty and diversity, to advantage.”
Every year, the UM-Festival gathers participants specifically from Berlin and Brandenburg to showcase their work but this year, a more global selection of artists participated. According to Arab News, the 6th edition saw contributors from Germany, Switzerland, Japan, and Saudi Arabia, with Jeddah artists Lina Gazzaz and Bricklab amongst the 22 selected for this year’s show. The news site pointed out that Saudi Arabia’s participation at UM 2018 is in fact a continuation of Germany’s first participation at Jeddah’s 21,39 art festival this year, marking another milestone in the cultural exchange between the two countries.
Bricklab, which comprises brothers Abdulrahman and Turki Gazzaz, showed an installation entitled “Temporal Growth,” which recalls the duo’s acclaimed work at this year’s Biennale Architettura, the first time Saudi Arabia has participated in the architecture section of the renowned Venice Biennale. Lina Gazzaz showed her stunning piece entitled “Throne” by the edge of lake Oberuckersee, an installation that leads to an old tree that still stands even after having been struck and split in half by lightning years ago.
In accordance to Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia’s ambitious plan to transform its economy while developing other key sectors such as arts, culture, and heritage, the Kingdom has been working on supporting the efforts of its art and cultural producers, through collaborations, increased funding, more international exposure, and so on.