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New 12-Week Artist Residency Program Announced By AlUla

The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) in partnership with the French Agency for AlUla Development (Afalula) has selected six international artists for its new artist residency program, which will run until December and has the objectives of fostering creativity, involving communities, and highlighting AlUla's natural beauty.

Six artists were chosen from among 35 initial applicants after a shortlist of 16 hopefuls had been narrowed down by a team of judges who had reviewed the submissions from all over the world. The talents include Saudi nationals Mohammad Al-Faraj and Daniah Al-Saleh, Emirati artist Afra Atiq, Moroccan-Canadian artist M’hammed Kilito, French-American artist Sabine Mirlesse and Filipino artist Augustine Paredes.

The selection criteria included a combination of technical proficiency, prior research initiatives, conformity with the goals of the RCU, and the candidate's aptitude for working in a novel setting. The programme invites the chosen artists to create artworks that are based around the theme “The rebirth of the oasis”, with AlUla’s impressive landscape at the center of the creations.

As reported in Trade Arabia, "The artist residency programme will give these six artists the most precious commodity of all, which is time," said Iwona Blazwick, chairwoman of the public art expert panel at RCU. "It’s an opportunity to leave everything they are familiar with behind, and in turn negotiate a place and community that is completely new. The ambition is two-fold — to create dialogue that transcends geopolitics and cultural differences, and to see what happens when you invite someone from outside into this rich environment."

These artists will collaborate on-site with archaeologists, botanists, water specialists, artisans, experts in oasian agro-systems, and scientists studying perfume to engage with the environment and cultural history of AlUla. The goal of all this professional information is to provide the artists with insight into how the land is managed.

In addition to participating in workshops and open forums throughout the program, they will use a variety of mediums and practices, such as visual arts, mixed media, installations, poetry, performance, and documentary photography. The group will also survey ancient skills and customs from past civilisations in the region, such as the Dadanites and the Nabataeans, at Mabiti AlUla, which is a palm grove and guesthouse.

According to the release, the continuing research will be displayed during an Open Studio in December and will "propose a fresh perspective on how to give a new lease of life to the land and to make sure it is tied to its legendary history."

"The local community of AlUla and the artists will both play fundamental roles in combining the essence of place, local histories and artistic skill," said Nora Aldabal, executive director of arts and creative industries at RCU. “Additionally, this research residence will give the six artists a unique and extraordinary area of study, regardless of their point of view or chosen method.” 

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