The diary of art events in Saudi Arabia is getting crowded as the results of the rapid investment in the country’s cultural sector are coming to light.
After being unveiled for its first four iterations at Art Dubai, the winning submission for the annual Ithra Art Prize will this year be shown at the Ad-Diriyah Biennale outside Riyadh. The event, due to kick off in December, will be the country’s first biennial, and will take place in the environs of the historic Salwa Palace at Ad-Diriyah.
The Ithra Art Prize is given by the King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture. Also known as Ithra, the centre is a Saudi Aramco project in the Eastern Province of the country and emphasises workshops and support structures for artists and other kinds of creative professionals alongside a regular roster of exhibition, theatre and cinema programmes.
The award carries a grant of up to $100,000 to produce a work of art, which then enters the Ithra collection. Artists from the Arab League countries are eligible, and it is presented this year in collaboration with the Ad-Diriyah Biennale Foundation. Submissions are open until August 16.
Ithra has also announced its seven-member jury for the award, with a mix of national, regional, and international names in the field.
These are: Abdullah K Al Turki, who was instrumental in founding the Saudi Art Council and the Jeddah event 21, 39; Dr Ridha Moumni, a historian of art and archaeology at Harvard University; Moroccan curator Brahim Alaoui; Salwa Mikdadi, who recently established the Al Mawrid Arab Centre for the Study of Art at NYUAD; Amal Khalaf, the director of programs at the London art space Cubitt and the Civic Curator at the Serpentine Galleries; Clare Davies, the associate modern and contemporary curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and Farah Abushullaih, the head of museums and exhibits at Ithra.
Past winners have included Saudi artists Ayman Zedani, Daniah Al Saleh, and Fahad bin Naif. The work will be shown throughout the duration of the Ad-Diriyah Biennale, which is scheduled to run from December 7 to March 7.