The second AlUla Arts Festival which began on February 16 features a comprehensive schedule of performances, exhibits, and artistic endeavours spread over 12 days in the breathtaking setting of the old city of AlUla.
AlUla Arts Festival, is destined to become a yearly must-attend event on the international arts scene. The festival schedule features a variety of immersive experiences, unique concerts, and art, culture and photography.
The AlUla Arts Festival 2023, with the theme “Living in Color,” examines works of art that celebrate polychromaticity and infuses the distinctive setting with vibrant hues through curated public art installations and special exhibitions, such as FAME: Andy Warhol in AlUla, which introduces works by the American contemporary artist to the kingdom for the first time.
In order to directly respond to the mirrored building Maraya, a specialised arts and cultural venue in AlUla, FAME was created in conjunction with The Andy Warhol Institution in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and was curated by Patrick Moore, the director of the museum. In addition to his revolutionary installation Silver Clouds and historical photographs, the exhibition will include Warhol’s well-known paintings and prints of Hollywood stars and other celebrities.
FAME will also be accompanied by a robust programme of performances, talks and workshops, including the 13 most beautiful, large-scale projections of Warhol’s silent films set to a specially commissioned live soundtrack by cult rock duo Dean and Britta, which will take place at Maraya on February 16.
Guided art tours provide guests the chance to explore AlUla’s distinctive terrain via the perspective of art with a focus on the fascinating desert vistas of AlUla. The Landscape as Art A guided hike will expose viewers to the Wadi AlFann landscapes, where works by world-famous artists like James Turrell, Agnes Denes, and Michael Heizer as well as local heroes Manal Al Dowayan and Ahmed Mater will be commissioned. The first pieces will be made available starting in 2024.
Aimed at adventurous art lovers, the ticketed guided hike will last six hours, with participants navigating the canyons and stunning desert trail while learning about the Wadi AlFann vision and artist narrative. The hike will also include a visit to the Art in the Landscape public art installations that were originally part of Desert X AlUla 2022.
Continuing AlUla’s program of artist residency ‘Palimpsest of Time’, from February 17 to March 18 is an exhibition and open studio bringing together 13 artists from the current and previous AlUla Artists Residency programme. The multidisciplinary artists have all lived and worked in the unique setting of AlUla, fostering dialogue and collaboration with AlUla’s scientific and local population. The exhibition is hosted in Mabiti — a guest house and palm grove home to the artist residency — an additional installation at Madrasat Addeera celebrates all 25 creatives who have experienced the residency programme so far.
AlUla’s new and exciting arts, culture and dining village, AlJadidah will be the setting for a range of public art and interactive events.
100 Best Arabic Posters in AlJadidah, presents eye-catching graphic designs from the Arab world. Launched in 2015 at the German University of Cairo, the unique platform showcases the latest innovations within the region’s contemporary visual culture, serving as a reference for graphic designers, visual artists, and scholars within the Arab world and beyond.
A compelling and immersive installation has been commissioned by Arts AlUla for AlUla’s Oasis. The artwork, titled ‘Resonant Shell’ by artists Nathalie Harb and Youmna Saba will provide a meditative experience as visitors enter an architectural structure that acoustically isolates external sounds, bringing to focus a sound-work drawn from AlUla’s desert and geology. Located in the Oasis, the site-specific artwork takes the shape of a tower with mudbrick and fabric as its material.
Led by Hukat AlFann, the Living in Colour Guided Tours will take visitors through the Community Square in the Arts District and Oasis to see newly commissioned and temporary public art, including community artworks and murals by artist eL Seed, as well as the unique community hand-painted urban carpet in AlJadidah. The duration of the ticketed tour is 75 minutes, though visitors can also conduct a self-guided tour with the help of AlUla Art’s print and digital guides.
Of Myhrr and Silver Scent Walking Tours will evoke the rich history of the Incense Road, leading visitors through an immersive journey of scents, from myrrh to botanicals to roasted Arabic coffee. Weaving through the oasis, AlJadidah, and Old Town, the ticketed tour will also offer encounters with sound and music related to the ancient trading route.
AlJadidah is also the site for the specially constructed Cinema AlJadidah and a curated film program AlUla Cinema Week. With programming in partnership with the Red Sea International Film Festival, this cozy and atmospheric outdoor cinema will play a special selection of films from Saudi Arabia, the wider Arab world, and beyond. Complementing the FAME: Andy Warhol in AlUla exhibition the cinema will also have a curated Warhol weekend of documentaries, features and artist films. The film program will be complemented by talks and a photography exhibition dedicated to Egyptian female cinema icons.
In addition, returning by popular demand, Fringe — the AlUla Performing Arts Festival will enliven AlJadidah with street-style performances, music and arts for audiences of all ages and abilities. Free to all to enjoy each evening during the festival.
Specifically aimed at engaging the local community through art, Madrasat Addeera Program comprises arts and crafts workshops at various levels in subjects such as wood carving, textile weaving, palm frond weaving, geometry, and decorative design.
Additionally, the AlUla Canon Young People’s Program, from February 20 to 28, will give budding photographers the opportunity to learn visual storytelling through a workshop that will culminate in an outdoor exhibition.
Arts AlUla Festival will run until February 28, with some programs extending through May.