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Aseel AlYacoub

Desert as Method
BE
Drawing insights from historical records, cultural narratives, and the constructed environment, Aseel AlYacoub invites workshop participants to redefine preconceived notions about the desert.
Desert as Method

Taus Makhacheva

Archival Footage: Behind Charivari
exh
Taus Makhacheva shares archival films that were collected and compiled from her research on the Soviet circus tradition.
Archival Footage: Behind Charivari

Tarek Atoui

The Hive: On Vibration and Resonance
BE
In this video workshop, Tarek Atoui invites children to explore music-making through playing with toys and instruments.
The Hive: On Vibration and Resonance

Feifei Zhou

Before there was land, there were mangroves
com
Zhou’s commission is a long-term, collaborative research undertaking that investigates coastal land reclamation across the globe. Filled by hard material such as rocks and cement, reclaimed land eliminates porosity and results in more severe flooding and biodiversity degradation. In contrast, mangrove forests, such as those in the Indian Ocean, nurture a rich range of sea and land creatures including fish, crabs, birds, and shrimp. Their salt-tolerant trunks and roots also create a porous environment and natural barrier against floods and tides. Preserving mangroves are some of the most pressing battles for coastal communities around the world.

Anca Rujoiu, Priyageetha Dia

Forget Me, Forget Me Not
exh
Amid the sea of information and data prone to racialized terminology, what are the possibilities for an artistic engagement to eschew or hijack the perpetuation of violence? Anca Rujoiu writes about Priyageetha Dia's *Forget Me, Forget Me Not.*
Forget Me, Forget Me Not

Anne Holtrop

From Geology to Glass
exh
Anne Holtrop Studio presents part of the research behind Glass to Stone, with a focus on the transitions from geology to glass, to glass waste and new glass production.
From Geology to Glass

Seher Shah

Notes from a City Unknown
exh
Cities are archives of our histories. They unfurl the historical, and connect the political to the personal across intimate passageways. We navigate the city through our kinships, languages, and constellations, which bind us in unknown and profound ways. We live with the weight and traces of those that came before us, as we guide our exterior and interior lives. Woven into us are notes and networks from inherited places, or a separation, leaving traces of a memory and a marked absence. Our names and bodies bear the weight of our failed nations, as we trace our footsteps to a sense of belonging.
Notes from a City Unknown

Migrant Ecologies Project

Fragments from Railtrack Songmaps
exh
BE
By probing the existing relationships between humans and birds, Migrant Ecologies collaborators explore a series of pathways through a contested zone along the former tracks of the Malaysian state railroad at Tanglin Halt, a neighborhood of Singapore that has undergone considerable social and environmental change. 

Fragments from Railtrack Songmaps

Hiba Ismail

Two Islets
com
Using an ongoing archive of sonic field recordings and images as a starting point, Ismail’s commission involves gathering extensive field recordings and images from the Red Sea and its surrounding areas, resulting in an index of recordings and photographs. Her most recent recordings took place on the Suakin Archipelago and multiple locations off the east coast of Sudan. The process of collecting audio material is an attempt to understand our relationship to the environment, drawing parallels between contemporary politics, archaeologies, and the natural histories of the earth. She consolidated the extensive catalogue of archipelago sounds into an audio composition developed in collaboration with sound designer Panos Chountoulidis.

Liam Young

The Great Endeavor
exh
Speculative architect and filmmaker Liam Young reflects on The Great Endeavor, a 2023 work that depicts a planetary carbon removal and storage industry emerging in the near future as part of the solution to the climate crisis.
The Great Endeavor

Aseel AlYacoub

The Secret Lake
exh
In this video documentation, Aseel AlYacoub explores two sites within Riyadh's desert, commonly referred to as 'The Secret Lake'. Through the footage, the artist interweaves narration from Paul W. Harrison's "The Arab at Home" (1924), a work by an American medical missionary to Arabia.
The Secret Lake

Munem Wasif, Natasha Ginwala

Kheyal: a conversation with Munem Wasif
exh
Munem Wasif and Natasha Ginwala discuss Wasif's solo exhibition Kromosho (ক্রমশ), or "step by step" in Bengali. Together, they exchange views around how the artist’s gaze has evolved, chronicling fiction and fact over time with fundamental transformations in both medium and subject. Traversing a range of recent works, Wasif attunes to unraveling vantage points, protagonists, and ambient idiosyncrasies.
Kheyal: a conversation with Munem Wasif

Jorge Otero-Pailos

A Library of Earthen Architectures
exh
BE
Jorge Otero-Pailos collaborates with Saudi artists and heritage experts in charge of Saudi World Heritage sites to create a Library of Earthen Architectures, which includes artefacts representative of Saudi cultural memory.
A Library of Earthen Architectures

NIDHI MAHAJAN & MOAD MUSBAHI

An Excerpt from Kitab Al Marasi: A Composite Navigational Manual for the Indian Ocean
com
A composite navigational manual for the Indian Ocean that draws from the historical cultural practices of local sailors to confront the uncertain future of coastal communities across the Indian Ocean facing extreme climate degradation. The work creates a repository of Indigenous maritime knowledge that firmly ties the risk of climate change with vernacular forms of knowledge.

Hussein Nassereddine

Hanging notes on “Laughing on the River”
BE
I choose here, dear ones, to comment on the texts that have become laughter on the river, from that time a poet recalled his loneliness in the open desert and its long night, to my friends in the river near our village, as we jump from the high rocks––plunging headfirst into the water, then the years take us, and we enter time. 
Hanging notes on “Laughing on the River”

Martha Atienza, Jake Atienza

Equation of State
exh
Martha Atienza’s ‘Equation of State III’ is part of a series that examines climate change and asks the viewer to question environmental management and socioeconomic development. The installation is an entry point to community-based archival work on Bantayan Island in central Philippines from which it emerges.
Equation of State

Mohammad AlFaraj

Sketches / Whispers
exh
Mohammad AlFaraj shares pencil sketches, ephemeral poems, and handwritten notes from the making of *The Whispers of Today Are Heard in the Garden of Tomorrow*, a newly commissioned work showing outdoors at the JAX District as part of Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale 2024.
Sketches / Whispers

Sammy Baloji

Overcoming Modernity
exh
A conversation between Sammy Baloji and Rolando Vázquez Melken on world exhibitions and the politics of cultural representation and appropriation through contemporary artistic and architectural interventions.
Overcoming Modernity

Rasha Al-Duwaisan

Buckets and Waterskins
BE
In this poetic reflection, Rasha Al-Duwaisan expands on Buckets and Waterskins, which was presented in March 2024 as part of the Biennale Encounters program of the Diriyah Contemporary Arts Biennale.
Buckets and Waterskins

Dana Awartani

Listen to my words
exh
In this selection of translated Arabic poetry interlaced with geometric symbolism, Awartani's work breathes a new life into powerful voices from the past, orchestrating an intergenerational dialogue that subtly questions the status of women in contemporary society. 
Listen to my words

ROBIN MEIER WIRATUNGA

Waves Beneath an Ocean of Wet Air
com
This commission juxtaposes audio recordings from the Empty Quarters in the Arabian Peninsula—sounds of singing sands, acoustic measurements of dune sediment, and foraging ants from his field work—with submarine recordings from the Indian Ocean, neuroelectric activity of the brain, AI-synthesized vocal sounds, and various other elements to create a generative, polyphonic soundscape, giving a voice to the stories of the desert and weaving a composition with sounds from oceans of varying wetness and its entangled kin.

Paulo Tavares

An Architectural Botany
exh
Paulo Tavares writes about what can happen when we recognise that a quintessentially natural or wild space—as defined by the hegemonic epistemic frameworks of colonial modernity—is in reality a cultural, socially produced artefact and how architectural practice and research can learn from a botanic archaeology, its methods and epistemic shifts. The essay is an excerpt of “Architectural Botany: A Conversation with William Balée on Constructed Forests,” the eighth chapter of Environmental Histories of Architecture, an open-access book published by the Canadian Centre for Architecture.
An Architectural Botany

Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise

Plantations, Museums, and Regenerative Ecologies
com
The work presented is a radical act of digital restitution. CATPC reclaims a piece of their heritage by using funds gained from NFTs (non-fungible tokens) such as Balot NFT, minted in 2022 and depicting the angry spirit of Belgian colonial officer Maximilien Balot (1890–1931). A series of short videos share the journey of collective members as they speak to elders, art historians, and academics about the possibility of restitution and the future use of blockchain technology toward regenerative forest ecologies.

Jumana Emil Abboud

Gazelle in a Mother's Eye
BE
Working with collaborators Tamara Kalo and Ileana Gonzalez Pacheco, artist Jumana Emil Abboud has created an immersive study of local folktales and the experience of embedding herself in the Riyadh landscape.
Gazelle in a Mother's Eye

Tara Aldughaither & Joe Namy

Rhythms of the Rising Sun
com
Rhythms of the Rising Sun traces migratory rhythmic ecologies from West Asia, the Indian Ocean subcontinent, East Africa, and the Arabian Peninsula. This collaborative research project aims to raise awareness for resonant sound pressures in the region today. It explores how lucid migratory patterns have shaped some of the most prominent rhythms, sounds, and music of these geographies, and how rhythms have in turn shaped language and ways of life.

Mariah Lookman

Poets have forgotten the words for love
exh
BE
A digital version of Mariah Lookman's sound walk, which gathers stories along spice routes in Saudi Arabia. The artist’s poetic narration is inspired by the stories of healers and merchants at the souks, and those of mothers and grandmothers. Storytelling becomes a method of recuperating a knowledge of plants that is passed on orally from one generation to the next. The work is an embodied and holistic experience of cross-cultural encounters and vernacular knowledge that has endured over distance and time.
Poets have forgotten the words for love
Buckets and Waterskins
  
Rasha Al-Duwaisan
BE

Buckets and Waterskins

Rasha Al-Duwaisan

In this poetic reflection, Rasha Al-Duwaisan expands on Buckets and Waterskins, which was presented in March 2024 as part of the Biennale Encounters program of the Diriyah Contemporary Arts Biennale.

So much is left out in the creation of a poem. So much is crossed out, deleted, or put aside. How is it that what remains, remains?

If we consider rain in the desert as a metaphor for writing, a poem often begins with a downpour. An impression or emotion will trigger a deluge of thoughts and images in a stream of consciousness. If we consider the landscape as a page, let’s consider the ways rain can fall. How it can seep through the sand into groundwater. How it can nourish the roots of a shrub. How it can run off the surface into a well or a flash flood.

When I first attempted to respond to “After Rain”, I had so many ideas. I jotted down notes about the bayt sha3ar or ‘house of hair’. How women picked strands of hair out of the sand with their fingers, hair that had been shed by goats and camels. How they would thread these strands together into ten meter walls and how, when it rained, the hair would swell and keep the water out.

I created mind maps around the humble date. Around its wrinkled skin and boundless minerals. How its seed was soaked for feed. How the sweetest fruit come from the driest places. I read about the way men spent hours digging wells with their hands. How tribes used to hide their cisterns. I read myths and folktales. Songs and superstitions. I researched waterskins, the leather flasks made from the headless, footless bodies of goats.

But a poem is not a fact. It is the story of an emotion. It is what pools at the very depths of the page, until it is lifted by a bucket. It is what is poured into a leather flask. What jostles and shifts. What is sipped and embodied.

In the end, I have written poems, where I hope, the image embodies the emotion. Or the other way round. Specifically, here, the feeling of anxiety. The anxiety of motherhood. The anxiety of forgetting. The anxiety of existence. In the poem “The Edge of Rain”, for example, the boundary of rain and no-rain really resonated with my physical being. The feeling of being stretched too thin. The overwhelm of growing older.

When I first attempted to write about the phenomenon, the edge of rain, the poem was about a man searching for it. How he walks through the desert and looks for the point where the rain stops. The flora and fauna he passes on the way, each a symbol in its own right. How he plants a seed when he finds it. In the end, without even trying, the narrative changed completely and came back to myself. To the modern day. To my own, actual experience of it.

Perhaps the man in the first draft will find his way to another poem. Or perhaps he will continue to wander indefinitely. Either way, the places, people, and objects in our poems should be kept alive. They should be fed, watered, and looked after. They should continue to exist, so at some point in the future they can fall, like rain, on the page.

In a performance commissioned for the Biennale, Buckets and Waterskins (2024), Al-Duwaisan juxtaposes historic and contemporary responses to rain in the Arabian Peninsula, combining spoken word, poetry, and sound. The role of rain in our everyday lives has evolved dramatically over the last century. What was once desperately longed for as a source of life is now often considered a refreshing turn of weather or even a nuisance. Through the lens of historic adaptations to rainfall, Al-Duwaisan narrates vignettes of modern domestic and social life. Using layered imagery centered on material objects, the landscape, and architecture, she questions how our interactions with nature have changed and how that has affected our sense of self and the world around us.
'Bucket' by Hussam Alduraywish

Rasha Al-Duwaisan

Rasha Al-Duwaisan is a writer, poet, and historian who works with sound and oral history to examine and represent overlooked histories of the Arabian Peninsula, in particular in relation to her native Kuwait. Trained in public policy at Princeton University, she spent a year living with a family in Udaipur, India, working on local community issues with the Foundation for Sustainable Development, and then later at a shelter for donkeys, before returning to the United States to pursue graduate research. At Harvard University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies, she conducted an extensive oral history of the Kuwaiti community in India from the 1940s to the 1960s. The child of a diplomatic, nomadic upbringing, Al-Duwaisan’s practice as both oral historian and poet is preoccupied with multiculturalism and absences or lapses in representation. Her choice of oral history as both method and form is rooted in a regional experience of histories where documentation and the archive are undervalued or absent. As a poet, she has published in journals including The Cincinnati Review, Willow Springs Magazine, The Adroit Journal, and Michigan Quarterly Review, which nominated her poetry for Best New Poets, 2023. Selections of her poetry were included by Jenny Holzer in her 2022 light installation at the Louvre Abu Dhabi on the occasion of the museum’s fifth anniversary.
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