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Art Spotlight: Desert X AlUla

Art Spotlight: Desert X AlUla

The highly regarded Desert X—an expansive outdoor exhibit of large-scale contemporary art installations—was founded by the nonprofit The Desert Biennial to raise environmental and political awareness through art. Following two successful years in the Coachella Valley (Indio, Palm Springs, and Palm Desert) in California, Desert X is popping up in an entirely new location— AlUla, a city in Northwestern Saudi Arabia. On display through March 7, Desert X AlUla is the first exhibition of its kind in the region with its purpose being to boost tourism via, celebrate the desert landscape, and start a conversation about the area’s historical and cultural significance. This incarnation of Desert X is government-funded and organized in conjunction with the Royal Commission of AlUla (RCU).

The exhibit boasts 14 participating artists, including new talent such as Manal AlDowayan, Zahrah AlGhamdi, Nasser AlSalem, as well as artists that have shown previously at Desert X, like Lita Albuquerque, Sherin Guirguis, and Superflex. The works on display are incredibly diverse: Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim painted 320 rocks in various sizes and bright colors and set them against sandstone canyons to bring attention to how fragile the desert ecosystem can be. Meanwhile, Manal Aldowayan created an interactive installation of artificial puddles that double as trampolines. Additionally, Superflex’s work features multiple three-seat swings for people to enjoy in an effort to connect strangers through a shared experience.

Due to the fact the Desert X installations are spread out across three square miles of desert in AlUla, Desert X created a map for art enthusiasts to follow. Official route guides are available on the Desert X app and on-site. Check out a few of the pieces from this year’s event here and head to the official website for more information.