Fatima Al Banawi
Saudi Arabia is participating in Bienalsur, the world’s first travelling contemporary art biennale, news welcomed by many, including Pope Francis, who was reportedly briefed on the event by its director, Aníbal Jozami. Works by three Saudi artists, Ayman Zedani, Faisal Samra, and Fatima Al-Banawi, are part of the biennale and will be exhibited in over 100 locations across the globe from June to October 2019.
Zedani’s website describes his work as pieces that celebrate the diversity of ideas found through experimentation and that “often depict novel layers within accepted traditions and narratives.” Samra’s bio on Ayyam Gallery’s website states that the Bahraini-born, Saudi-national is considered one of the Arab Gulf’s foremost artists and a pioneer of conceptual art in the Middle East. Al-Banawi not only a performing artist, but a writer and actress as well, and she is the founder of The Other Story Project, a project that collects handwritten life stories by Jeddawis and turns them into creative productions.
The Saudi exhibition in Bienalsur is being hosted at the Pavilion of Fine Arts at the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina, where Francis was Grand Chancellor before he became pope. According to Harper’s Bazaar, Zedani, Samra, and Al-Banawi were amongst 400 artists selected from around 5,100 entries from 82 countries by the biennale’s curators.
Fatima Al Banawi
According the Bienalsur’s website, the biennale is known as the International Contemporary Art Biennial of South America and seeks to establish a global network of institutional associative collaboration that erases distances and borders and upholds singularity in diversity. Its inaugural edition took place in 2016, starting with its Sur Global meetings, which is a platform for reflection on contemporary art, and then transitioning to actions and exhibitions held in various venues in various countries by 2017.
Bienalsur is organized by public university Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero (UNTREF) in Argentina. Its Rector, Jozami, is the General Director and Diana Wechsler, its Director of Arts and Culture, the Artistic and Academic Director. Now in its third edition, the biennale’s exhibitions are usually held in different museums, cultural centers, buildings, and iconic areas of the public space.