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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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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”

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

Paulo Tavares

An Architectural Botany
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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
Kheyal: a conversation with Munem Wasif
  
Munem Wasif, Natasha Ginwala
exh

Kheyal: a conversation with Munem Wasif

Munem Wasif, Natasha Ginwala

In this talk, Munem Wasif and Natasha Ginwala discuss Wasif’s solo exhibition Kromosho (ক্রমশ), or "step by step" in Bengali. 'Kromosho' (ক্রমশ) encapsulates an oeuvre developed over two decades in close association with Old Dhaka, the people and living infrastructures inhabiting it. 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 unravelling vantage points, protagonists, and ambient idiosyncrasies.

Natasha Ginwala: If we can start by talking about Kheyal, and more generally, if we can talk about the moving image itself, and if you can define this medium and style that you have inhabited. Because there are many examples of this kind of work, so it would be great if you could chart what that terrain is for you.

Munem Wasif: When I first started thinking about the film, I was really interested in this idea of sound and what sound does to the human mind, and also to the eyes, how you see things. So while I was researching, I was walking around with a sound recorder in different parts of Old Dhaka, and I realized that there’s always a flow of water in different places in the city that you don’t see, and you only hear it at certain points at night. When you have a sound recorder, it of course amplifies the sound, and I realized that it’s something so powerful. For me, Old Dhaka is a space where there are a lot of solitary scopes for people to live a life in a certain way. It can be about a very simple man who sells perfumes walking in different alleys. It can be a writer staying on top of a roof writing. Or it can be about someone like me, who can go back to the city and the city still has a space for them. Someone who doesn’t look at a camera as a threat, who stops me to say: “Why didn't you come back for such a long time? Just sit and have a cup of tea.” So Kheyal was formed by these four characters who live in Old Dhaka but think about something else. I think, for me, there is something very special about being there while also not being there.

NG: And can you talk a bit more about the characters?

MW: So, there are four characters. There is Osman Ali, there is Ranju, there is Dadi, who is a grandmother, and there is Nitu, who is a small child. They all live in the same neighborhood but they actually don’t know each other. Together, they all frame the kind of Kheyal I have in my mind. And the film has a particular way of editing. As we spoke previously, I was also deeply inspired by Hindustani classical music, when there is one fragment that is repeated again and again, and it creates this almost  abstract sound in the end. So I was really interested in this whole mood of repetition and what repetition does to our mind and eyes. 

NG: I particularly was drawn to the plot, and the fact that there are these characters who are living in proximity to one another but they do not actually know each other. So there is a space of tension, of possibility, of being on the edge of a possible meeting, but it is not promised. And that is very much the reality of these saturated cities. I mean, I’m always seeing people who I forgot live in Bombay. So it’s always possible but it’s not always promised, that two people meet each other. This is something I think about in the way that you approached Kheyal. I think about Mary Ann Doane writing about archivability of presence. So again, these different forms of a shared presence, without infringing on each other. There’s a lot of fluidity. You create a space that is quite liberated in comparison to some of the harshness of Dhaka, and I wonder about that. I also wanted to add in one more word and then let you complete your thoughts on this. And that is the term ‘riyaz’. Because there is the act of riyaz going on within the film, this other temporality of riyaz as a form of recursivity. Not repetition, because it’s never the same riyaz. 

MW: Yes, I will come back to it. But one thing that you asked actually was so important. I think the film was also shot in a very particular way. I knew from before that I didn’t want to work with any cinematographer and I wanted to look at the film also from a very photographic prism. This also comes from my obsession with slow cinema starting from Ozu to Kiarostami. What happens when the camera doesn’t move? And what does boredom mean? This pushes you to think about these different epistemes. And for me, this also references that certain kind of transformation that happened within these cameras, where all of a sudden still cameras also became moving cameras, and with the same functions that can move images. But it doesn't have the same weight as a film camera. So why should you treat them as film cameras and act like you are filming although it has a very core photographic notion? So I was very much interested in this idea of staticness. And how a photographic film can look. Of course we have a lot of references to this, such as Chris Marker and a lot of other people in experimental film history. For me, this was also very important because it refers to all these sketches I have done in the last 15 years about the city. 

NG: Let’s move towards there and continue talking about this.

MW: In recent years, I have loved doing shows in our part of the world rather than going to the West and showing the work and explaining exactly what you said about ‘riyaz.’ Where you don’t have to translate anything and everyone understands within the moment what it means. And I think there is something very special about that. And from the last five years I started actually looking for only Bangla titles for my work, because I realized that there is so much literature that is actually coded or blended with how I think or how we think. To go back to this whole exhibition, it is all related, each work is actually referring to a new work. So when I started designing the exhibition, the idea was to extend these four characters that you see in the film. In the space, you can see Osman Ali again, and that’s how the work was actually initially formed. I thought about this character who is obsessed with smell. And when I say smell I don’t mean perfume, but smell in every possible sense, smell of blood, smell of sweat, smell of paper, smell of everything. Especially in Old Dhaka, if somebody were to blindfold you and move you from one place to the other, you can easily tell which area you are in because there is so much presence of smell. And I started to think about how I can really talk about smell without showing smell. And how someone can be obsessed with smell in 2022. And I started researching and especially looking at the Mughal era, which opened up a completely different episteme and new ways of looking at the world, at least for me. So here, you will see a lot of spaces, a lot of architecture, a lot of things which are not definite, but it still gives you a reference to certain forms of smell. Which links with the film as well.

NG: I was also really struck by the image of smoke. This strange idea of an image that is vaporous. Of course, air and atmosphere is a core ingredient in the making of a photograph. But to actually situate smoke and vapor without it becoming something that's ephemeral or just passing through it.. It's got a certain weight to it, particularly in this sequence of images. I feel like it’s a space of haunting, a sort of reminder of fragrances, and a way to think about asymmetrical time. For example, the fragrance of someone that you desire or someone that you fear hits you in such a specific way. That even if that fragrance comes back to you after many many years, it has this immediacy about it. Sso I feel like these images also perform in that kind of way. 

MW: Yes, it brings a whole new idea of materiality. When I will do this show in Dhaka, there will also be two other chapters so that it has this chance of evolving and unfolding in various ways. And that's what I love about my practice, that it gives you the fluidity of interpreting things and recalibrating things in different ways, and it's not static nor dead, so you don't feel like it’s an archive. 



Munem Wasif

Munem Wasif works primarily with photography, video, and sound. His works emerge from long-term engagements with specific places and their histories, particularly within the context of Bangladesh. His complex installations often mix photographs with moving images and archival documents, investigating topics that resonate with larger global concerns, such as food sovereignty, labor exploitation, and borders and migration. Having exhibited at the Lyon Contemporary Art Biennale (2022), Dhaka Art Summit (2020), Taipei Biennial (2020), Centre Pompidou (2019), Sharjah Biennial (2019) Gwangju Biennale (2018), Victoria and Albert Museum (2017), and the Singapore Biennale (2016), Wasif was named the 2023 Robert Gardner Fellow in Photography at Harvard University, awarded to support his work on the critical history of the indigo industry in Bengal.

Natasha Ginwala

Natasha Ginwala is a curator, writer and researcher. She is the Artistic Director of COLOMBOSCOPE, Colombo (2019–ongoing) and Associate Curator at Large at Gropius Bau, Berlin (2018–2024). She also served as Artistic Director of the 13th Gwangju Biennale (2021) with Defne Ayas. Ginwala has been part of curatorial teams for Contour Biennale 8 (2017), documenta 14 (2017), 8th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art (2014) and 8th Taipei Biennial (2012). She co-curated international exhibitions at e-flux, Sharjah Art Foundation, Hamburger Bahnhof - Nationalgalerie der Gegenwart, ifa Gallery, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, L’ appartement 22, Muzeum Sztuki w Łodzi, MCA Chicago, 56th Venice Biennale, SAVVY Contemporary and Zeitz MOCAA. Ginwala is a widely published author with a focus on contemporary art, visual culture and social justice.
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