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Another Saudi First: The Kingdom Announces Pavilion At The Venice Biennale

For the first time ever, Saudi Arabia will host a pavilion at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition, part of the renowned Venice Biennale. The announcement was made by MiSK Art Institute, a new cultural body that was established last year by the MiSK Foundation, a non-profit organization led by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

According to Arab News, Ahmed Mater, Director of MiSK Art Institute, explained that the foundation is still in the process of looking at the 66 entries, with judges yet to decide which architectural project will be selected and showcased at the event.

The 16th International Architecture Exhibition falls under this year’s overarching theme of Freespace, a celebration of architecture’s inclusivity, as well as its ability to not only “shelter our bodies, but also to lift our spirits.” The exhibition will take place from May 26 to November 25, and this edition’s curators are Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara.

The creation of platforms such as MiSK and the provision of an environment that nurtures art and cultural production in the Kingdom are key objectives of Vision 2030, the roadmap for Saudi Arabia’s future that aims to diversify and strengthen its economy. Milestones achieved under Vision 2030 over the past year include lifting the 35-year ban on public cinemas and supporting more public concerts and performances across the Kingdom.

MiSK Art Institute was established with the aim to become “Saudi Arabia’s leading platform for grassroots cultural production, diplomacy, and exchange.” As part of its upcoming programming, the organization also plans to train 10 young Saudi artists in California and launch an Arab art festival at several New York locations in October.

“We are proposing and dreaming of a collaborative platform led by artists from the ground up,” explained Mater at a launch in The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. “This approach, instructed by the crown prince, comes from a place of passion and dedication — a unique opportunity to combine the energy and participation of voices from the bottom up with the vision and resources from the top.”

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