53rd Venice Biennale: Edge of Arabia

5 Jun 2009 - 2 Aug 2009

Palazzo Polignac
Venice, Italy

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Curated by

Stephen Stapleton
Abdulnasser Gharem
Ahmed Mater

Organised by

Edge of Arabia

In June 2009, Edge of Arabia travelled to Italy for the 53rd Venice Biennale, and was described as ‘the best representation of Middle Eastern art in the Biennale’.

The exhibition was visited by over 11,000 visitors and created a powerful platform for showcasing Saudi art around the world. It paved the way for the first-ever Saudi national pavilion at the 2011 Venice Biennale.

This unique exhibition showcased the work of eight Saudi contemporary artists, male and female, based in Jeddah, Makkah, Riyadh, Dhahran, Abha and Khamis Mushait. In bringing them to Venice for the first time, Edge of Arabia heralded a new chapter in the history of contemporary art in Saudi Arabia, with artists representing a pioneering creative movement. Their work explored the complex and diverse reality of 21st century life in Saudi Arabia, combining installation, performance and a variety of other media with a multi-disciplinary approach to artistic practice. In its outlook and range the work was as much personal or domestic as it was geopolitical. This is not an exposition of international misconceptions to do with Saudi Arabia but a series of reflections on local identity, the environment, individual (re) constructions of the past, and a critical dialogue with the future.

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