The Art Newspaper: Contemporary Art Show in Saudi Arabia Could Herald a New Movement

An article on discussing the Edge of Arabia show that is currently taking place in Jeddah. 

“Organised by Edge of Arabia, an independent arts initiative, “We Need to Talk” (until 18 February) features more than 40 pieces by 22 young Saudi artists, almost half of them women, and includes videos, sculpture and photography from the likes of Abdulnasser Gharem, Ahmed Mater and Manal Al-Dowayan. Most of these artists have shown together over the past three-and-a-half years in London, Venice, Berlin, Istanbul and Dubai, but never before in Saudi Arabia. Could an exhibition like this have been staged in Jeddah ten years ago? “Of course not,” said the show’s curator Mohammed Hafiz, “because we didn’t have the artists, we didn’t have the works of art… there are many elements.”

One of these elements was a degree of indifference or suspicion displayed back then towards contemporary art. Now, members of the Saudi royal family, including the participating artist, Princess Jowhara Al Saud, as well as legions of young art fans packed the opening. A smattering of non-Saudis were also there, including photographer Wolf­gang Tillmans, Jack Persekian, the former director of the Sharjah Art Foundation, Antonia Carver, the director of Art Dubai, and the following day Chris Dercon, the director of Tate Modern, took a spin round the show, later describing the artists involved as “true intellectuals with a great eye for form and immanence”. (from article cited below)

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