DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale is set to “bridge the past, present, and future” at the iconic Aga Khan award-winning Western Hajj Terminal in Jeddah from Jan. 23 – Apr. 23.
The terminal will also host two separate pavilions presenting a display of historical objects, originally housed in the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah and in the Masjid Al-Haram in Makkah, among contemporary artistic expressions inspired by these Holy Sites.
Themed “Awwal Bait” – meaning “First House,” in reference to the Holy Ka’bah in Makkah – the biennale will feature over 60 established and emerging artists from around the globe, over 60 new commissions, 280 artefacts and over 15 never-before-exhibited works of art.
Curated by a multi-disciplinary panel of experts, including Dr. Saad Alrashid, leading Saudi scholar and archaeologist; Dr. Omniya Abdel Barr, Barakat Trust Fellow at the Victoria and Albert Museum; Dr. Julian Raby, Director Emeritus of the National Museum of Asian Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC; and Artistic Director Sumayya Vally, Principal of Counterspace, and Honorary Professor of Practice, UCL, the Biennale aims to highlight the beauty and diversity of the Muslim experience.
Farida Alhusseini, Islamic Arts Biennale Director, said in a statement: “For a very long time, the world has perceived Islamic Arts through a very specific lens, one that has often restricted or defined its boundaries. With the Islamic Arts Biennale, we are working to broaden that definition, and enable a deeper and more nuanced exploration of the Islamic arts.”
Artistic Director Sumayya Vally added: “Seeing the biennale come to life through the voices and perspectives of our artists has been profound. Each of them has boldly and sensitively taken on the opportunity of this platform to contribute to an emerging discourse on Islamic arts that we hope will continue. At its essence, this biennale is about giving contemporary objects a home by giving them a lineage and giving historic objects a home by giving them a future.”