Diriyah Biennale Foundation (DBF) presents Saudi Arabia’s first contemporary art biennale, Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale, which opened 11 December 2021 in the JAX district of Diriyah. The Biennale featured a historic collection of jubilant works by Mohamed Melehi, a major figure in postcolonial Moroccan art and modernism in the global south.
With more than 60 acclaimed artists from Saudi Arabia and around the world, the Biennale showcases work in a wide variety of mediums, from site-specific commissions to celebrated pieces by leading contemporary artists. Serving as a platform for global dialogue and exchange, the Biennale cultivates an interactive art experience by bringing together Saudi and international artists in a celebration of contemporary culture, and an accessible and engaging platform for all.
The inaugural edition of the Biennale is curated under the leadership of Philip Tinari (Director and Chief Executive of UCCA Center for Contemporary Art), and supported by a team of international curators; Wejdan Reda (Founder of Sahaba Art Consultancy in Jeddah), Shixuan Luan (Curator at UCCA) and Neil Zhang (Assistant Curator at UCCA).
The Biennale takes its title from the concept of “Crossing the River by Feeling the Stones,” a slogan that emerged during the 1980s as a metaphor for action at a time of social and economic transformation. The Biennale unfolds in six sections: Crossing the River, Experimental Preservation, Peripheral Thinking, Going Public, Brave New Worlds, and Concerning the Spiritual. At every turn, the exhibition creates dialogues between the rapidly evolving artistic context of Saudi Arabia and the wider world, putting work by the 27 participating Saudi artists into conversation with their international counterparts.