Trip to Najran: Reflections on Saudi Cultural Heritage Policies

Prof K and the South Arabian mystery

Photo taken in the ruins of the city of Al Ukhdood (ancient Najran) by Abdelkarim Qassem

One of the premises of the ‘Searching for Ancient Arabia’ research project is the cultural diversity of the Arabian Peninsula; one of the research hypotheses being that this pluralism—well evident in ancient history—was smothered by subsequent narratives and historical developments, but that it could be a great asset for the future development of the Gulf region, particularly in artistic and cultural terms. Continue reading

A Saudi Artist in Paris

An exhibition I’m curating in Paris: it will only remain open for 2 days (Sat 28 and Sunday 29 September). Don’t miss the opening party / vernissage !

Ibrahim invitation

Ibrahim Abumsmar is an artist specializing in minimalist sculpture with a sociopolitical message. He hails from the Asir, the mountainous southwestern region of Saudi Arabia. After participating in exhibitions in Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Qatar, Italy and Istanbul, Ibrahim is now completing a two-month residency at the Cité des Arts in Paris. Continue reading

Article in Harpers Bazaar Art about my curating in Kochi

Ahmed Mater: Muzdalifah (the day after); part of Desert of Pharan/Adam. 180 x 120 cm, 2012

Ahmed Mater: Muzdalifah (the day after); part of Desert of Pharan/Adam. 180 x 120 cm, 2012

Harper’s Bazaar Arabia published my personal diary about the installation of Desert of Pharan / Adam, by Ahmed Mater, in the Kochi Biennale.

See the pages 1, 2, 3 and 4.

I was curatorial consultant for the Kochi Muziris Biennale; I introduced five of the finally exhibited artists and worked with them on their projects as a curator. These are Ahmed Mater, Amanullah Mojadidi, Gert Jan Kocken, Ibrahim Quraishi and Jonas Staal.

I am now working with Ahmed Mater on the second installment of Desert of Pharan, Room with a View, which will be part of the Sharjah Biennial (opens on March 13).

Moidus Heritage House in Kochi - where the installation of Ahmed's work took place

Moidus Heritage House in Kochi – where the installation of Ahmed’s work took place

Gulf Art Guide online

Finally, after a year and a half working on project proposal and funding, followed by nearly a year intensive research and writing, the Gulf Art Guide is online. Some of the cities (Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Muscat, Doha and Manama) are covered by my co-author Neil van der Linden. The rest is written by me, and I worked a lot on website layout, design, functionalities and editing and proofreading the whole site.

I first looked forward to the day the Gulf Art Guide would finally be finished and online, as a day of relief. But the same evening that it went online I realized that it is like a baby: now I will have to nurture it, help it get over infancy diseases, and help it grow up. No time to celebrate!

The essay, which you can download here, provides an unusual take on the Gulf art scene.

We have over 1000 likes on our Facebook page, which is a good way to keep abreast of what’s going on in the Gulf Art World.

A version 1.1 is being prepared for release in the summer of 2013.

A visit to the National Museum of Riyadh

The National Museum of Riyadh is a very interesting museum designed by the Canadian architect Raymond Moriyama (figs 1 & 2). It was inaugurated in 1999. It is located on the grounds of the Murabba Palace that was built by King Abdul Aziz in 1936/37 north of what was then Riyadh, a small and congested walled city. Many of the buildings of this palatial complex that fell into disuse in the early 1950s have been beautifully restored, and together with the gardens that surround them they form one of the only large public spaces in Riyadh (figs 3 & 4). Many people come here to stroll, picnic and watch other passers-by. Continue reading