Skip to main content

“Feeling the Stones” unveiled as creative theme for inaugural edition of Saudi Arabia’s Ad-Diriyah Biennale

“Feeling the Stones” unveiled as creative theme for inaugural edition of Saudi Arabia’s Ad-Diriyah Biennale

The Ad-Diriyah Biennale Foundation has today announced the theme for Saudi Arabia’s first contemporary art Biennale titled “Feeling the Stones”. It is inspired by the idea 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. Set to open from the 7th of December 2021 to the 7th of March 2022, the Biennale will take place at JAX district in Diriyah.


Philip Tinari, Director and Chief Executive of UCCA Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing and curator of the Biennale said: “We hope that this exhibition will expose new generations of viewers to global contemporary art, not just as a mode of visual expression but as a space for critical thinking. The art scene in Saudi Arabia finds itself at a crucial juncture, and art has an important role to play in reflecting on key issues of the moment.”


The Biennale will take place in a 27,000 square meters area, located in the recently developed creative district of JAX in Diriyah. Initiated by the Ministry of Culture as part of its efforts to support the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 strategic framework and Quality of Life Program, and overseen by the Ad-Diriyah Biennale Foundation, it will present two Biennales alternating each year: contemporary art (2021) and Islamic arts (2022).


The exhibition will unfold in six sections examining themes that include memory and preservation; cultural transmission; social engagement; the Anthropocene and the spiritual. It aims to create new connections between the Saudi and international art worlds, bringing new trends in global contemporary art to Saudi Arabia’s burgeoning cultural scene with nearly 70 artists exhibiting.


“Saudi Arabia’s first art Biennale is an important milestone and builds on the unprecedented cultural transformation underway in the Kingdom,” said Aya Albakree, CEO of Ad-Diriyah Biennale Foundation. “It is part of a wider plan to transform Ad-Diriyah into a global arts destination and encourage dialogue between artists from around the world in a dedicated environment that supports creative expression.”


The Biennale curatorial team also includes Wejdan Reda, founder of Sahaba art consultancy, Jeddah; Shixuan Luan, curator at UCCA; and Neil Zhang, assistant curator.