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Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale Establishes Saudi Arabia As An Important Cultural Centre

The first contemporary art biennale will be one of the Kingdom’s largest and most significant international displays of contemporary art to date…

The countdown is on for Saudi Arabia’s first international contemporary art biennale, the Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale. Organised, created and hosted in the Kingdom, the inaugural edition of the exciting addition to the Kingdom’s cultural calendar is set to be held from 11 December 2021 till 11 March 2022. Taking place in the JAX district of Diriyah, the event aims to offer a platform for discovery and connection to Saudi Arabia’s mushrooming cultural scene and creative communities.

Presented by the Diriyah Biennale Foundation (DBF), which is working on global dialogue and exchange between the Kingdom and the world, the Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale is developed by a team of international curators, led by Philip Tinari (Director and Chief Executive of UCCA Center for Contemporary Art, China). The biennale will be presented in six sections, with works from nearly 70 national and international artists exploring the theme “Feeling the Stones.” The creatives will also engross visitors with talks about contemporary art. The rich interactive programme includes events and activities for all generations too.

“Cultural and artistic exchange are essential in this period of unprecedented growth and development in the creative community in Saudi Arabia,” His Highness Prince Badr bin Farhan Al-Saud, Saudi’s Minister of Culture, said. “The Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale is at the forefront of this cultural awakening and flourishing art scene.”

Meanwhile, Aya Al-Bakree, CEO of the DBF, said the foundation couldn’t be prouder to be behind the memorable moment in the progression and growth of Saudi’s art scene.

“The Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale is emblematic of our commitment to showcasing the array of local talent in Saudi Arabia, in dialogue with leading artists from around the world. The Biennale will drive cultural exchange, promote dialogue and understanding, and further establish the Saudi Arabian artistic community as an important cultural voice,” the head of the foundation that is organising a second biennale focused on Islamic arts in 2022 added.

The Venue
Found just outside of Riyadh. Diriyah is home to At-Turaif, a UNESCO world heritage-listed site that was the first capital of the Saudi Dynasty, founded in the 15th century. And the repurposed estate of JAX, comprising of over 100 warehouses, is a custom-made art space that will serve as the venue for the Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale and present immersive contemporary art exhibitions offering interactive experiences. The new arts and culture district also has artist studios, art galleries, facilities and platforms. And as well as being a cultural centre with an impressive exhibitions programme, JAX is a permanent site of dialogue and exchange, welcoming all Saudi and international visitors to engage and learn through cooperative art experiences.

The Diriyah Biennale Foundation
Established in 2020 with the support of the Saudi Ministry of Culture, the Diriyah Biennale Foundation is inspired by the changes taking place in Saudi Arabia and the heritage site of Diriyah. It has an important role in fostering creative expression and instilling appreciation for culture, the arts and their transformative power.

The foundation aspires to be a catalyst for lifelong learning and serves Saudi Arabia's communities by offering opportunities to engage with the burgeoning local art scene.

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