Images via Fabiola Catalano ©
An award-winning photographer has captured vivid and enchanting images of a vast Saudi area that includes a lush oasis valley, towering sandstone mountains and ancient cultural heritage sites dating back thousands of years. Culture buffs in Milan, and hopefully other cities in the future, can deepen their knowledge about AlUla, ai region of great historical and archaeological wealth, through well-known photographer Robert Polidori’s lens. "AlUla - Journey Through Time," which is being displayed until 28 March, highlights the main cultural sites around the area found in the north-west of the Kingdom.
The exhibition, made up of 30 panels, is open for free along the city’s Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, allowing citizens to roam and discover the area that still largely remains a mystery. With the patronage of the Municipality of Milan and in collaboration with the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, the exhibition allows visitors to embark on a fascinating journey through time. And those who want to learn more about the archaeological aspects can do so through digital content accessible via QR codes found in the captions. The captions were created by Romolo Loreto, Associate Professor of the University of Naples - L'Orientale and one of the leading Italian experts of Saudi archaeology.
Phillip Jones, Chief Destination Management and Marketing Officer at Royal Commission for AlUla, believes the exhibition will inspire people to visit the region, considered one of the world’s most important heritage and cultural destinations. (In AlUla, there are testimonies of 250,000 years of history of human evolution: from prehistory to the present day, passing through the mysterious kingdoms of Lihyan and Dadan, the Nabataeans and the Roman era.)
"Robert Polidori's images are an excellent way to get a taste of the vast desert landscapes and geological wonders of this region of Saudi Arabia,” Jones said. “AlUla is an open-air museum with many stories of past civilizations still untold. Excavations carried out by teams of both Saudi and international archaeologists have recently resumed and over the next few months new discoveries of great importance will be revealed.”
While commenting about the region, the Canadian-American Polidori described is as remarkable and unmatched, even saying it seems to be almost “carved out by a divine power.”
“I try to render what I call an emblematic image, encapsulating the entirety of a subject often by showing its details to represent the whole and vice versa,” the photographer, who started his career in the mid-1980s, said. “Even though every photograph comes from one moment in time, I nonetheless attempt to give it a timeless aspect greater than the temporal context of its initial capture.”
After snapping the restoration of Versailles, Polidori started visiting different sites across the globe. Preferring the beauty and stillness of working with a large-format camera and slow shutter speeds, he thinks of rooms as vessels for memory. As well as winning the Alfred Eisenstaedt Award for Magazine Photography twice, Polidori has published over a dozen photo books, held major solo exhibitions in iconic galleries and features in collections of many prominent museums around the world.