American singer Alicia Keys, who is a known art collector and aficionado, paid a visit to the opening of Desert X AlUla 2022, dancing on her own amid the artwork.
The singer is in AlUla to perform a concert at the Maraya concert hall on Friday evening, and came to the contemporary art biennial with her husband, Swizz Beatz.
The arrival of the celebrity pair caused a stir even among the art VIPs. Keys went first to the throne-like piece by Palestinian artist Dana Awartani, and then posed for a picture with another Alicia, the Polish artist Alicja Kwade, whose rectangular sculptures frame the view of the surrounding canyon.
But Keys’s favourite work seemed to be that of American artist Jim Denevan, Angle of Repose, a large expanse of 364 hills of sand, arranged in concentric circles that grow progressively smaller. Keys walked to the middle of the artwork and, her arms aloft, let the wind ripple through her flowing white dress and then twirled in the centre.
The event’s photographers snapped away at full speed, capturing an image that is sure to become widely spread: the regal Keys, in her flowing white dress with her hair piled atop her head, against the backdrop of the artwork's sandy geometry and the stunning hills beyond.
Denevan, in cowboy boots and hat, had a wide smile on his face for the rest of the day. More than a few onlookers wondered whether they were seeing an album cover in the making.
Keys and Swizz Beatz spent about two hours touring the biennial, a notably strong show, with works drawing from the area’s history and unique geography – many of which can now be seen on Swizz Beatz's Instagram account, along with images of the rapper in a gabardine blazer over a camouflage jumpsuit.
The rapper, real name Kasseem Daoud Dean, has become involved in the region lately. In November, he set up a creative agency in Riyadh called Good Intentions, which looks for Saudi cultural talents and helps to develop and promote their work to the world.
Keys told The National that she thought the biennial was “beautiful”, before climbing into an open-top Jeep and speeding off to visit the rest of the show.