Featuring safar, an educational forum and art exhibition curated by Sam Bardaouil & Till Fellrath
The Forum (al-muntada): December 2 – May 6, 2017
The Exhibition (al-maarad): February 1 – May 6, 2017
Opening Program - The Art Platform (al-minassah): February 1 – 4, 2017
(Jeddah, Saudi Arabia) December 13, 2016: The Saudi Art Council announces the 4th edition of 21,39 Jeddah Arts, an annual program of special exhibitions, workshops and educational forums, in various locations throughout the city of Jeddah, from February through May 2017, with a series of opening events February 1 – 4, 2017. 21,39 is an annual initiative—created and organized by the Saudi Art Council—to foster Saudi Arabia’s thriving art community.
The 2017 edition is curated by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath and is conceived as both a public forum for creative experimentation, as well as a visual arts exhibition. Entitled safar—the Arabic word for travel—the multifaceted program explores the notion of travel and movement as a vehicle for learning and growth. The theme takes its inspiration from the Arabic word for travel, safar, which itself is rooted in the word sāfer—a term that is used to describe things that are revealed, or unveiled. The curators, Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, explained, “Rather than simply describing movement from one site to another, safar implies a process of discovery and exploration by which things are revealed to the traveler—added knowledge of self, of others, of the places that were left behind and the places that were arrived at. As such the exhibition and its programs are conceived as an educational platform for experimentation and for supporting mutual exchange within the dynamic art scene of Saudi Arabia”
safar features artworks, creative projects and new commissions by 17 Saudi artists, many of whom are young and emerging. Over a period of six months, more than 50 events will take place featuring workshops, presentations and film screenings by a host of local, regional and international artists and creatives.
Founded in 2014 by a group of local art patrons—the Saudi Art Council, chaired by HRH Princess Jawaher bint Majed bin Abdulaziz—21,39 aims to cultivate the local art scene and encourage interest in arts and culture throughout the region, as well as build bridges with the international art world. The name of the initiative references the geographic coordinates of Jeddah (21.5433°N, 39.1728°E), which is Saudi Arabia’s second largest city, and has been at the forefront of the Kingdom’s contemporary art scene for decades.
HRH Princess Jawaher bint Majed bin Abdulaziz explains, “Jeddah is both a historic city with deep cultural roots and a thriving metropolitan center, and the Saudi Art Council is a group of generous patrons deeply invested in nurturing our incredible local and regional artists, as well as fostering a broader cultural community in our great city.”
Mohammed Hafiz, Vice Chairman of the Saudi Art Council, says, “With the 4th edition of 21,39, we hope to further raise awareness of, and interest in, contemporary creative practice throughout the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” Hafiz continues, “We have selected internationally renowned curators Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath to explore our local art community and organize the central exhibition, and we are so thrilled that they’ve chosen to include so many of our talented local artists.”
The theme of safar was present in the lead up to the exhibition’s installation. Bardaouil and Fellrath organized international study trips to Berlin and Korea for emerging Saudi artists as part of a one-year mentorship program. Six emerging Saudi artists took part in the tours, and subsequently created special commissions for the 2017 edition of 21,39. The artists are Majid Angawi, Marwah AlMugait, Abdullah Al-Othman, Bayan Abdullateef, Mohammed Al Faraj and Reem Al Nasser.
This multilayered notion of travel, and the process of discovery that it entails, is mirrored in the structure and content of The Exhibition (al-maarad), which takes place across four venues in Jeddah. Each venue will host site-specific installations and commissioned works that respond to the historical and contemporary narratives of each space.
The Mall (al-mol), Al Shate’a District’s Gold Moor mall, will feature newly commissioned installations by 17 emerging Saudi artists, spanning painting, photography, sculpture, film and mixed-media installations. The Home (al-manzil), a 19th century abandoned woman’s shelter in the city’s historic quarter, will host a monumental site-specific installation. A participatory project will be installed in The Carpark (al-mawqif), an underground garage in the Ash Shati District, and The City (al-madinah), the fast-growing King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), will feature a series of 8 immersive video installations by leading international video artists, marking the first such exhibition in Saudi Arabia.
Bardaouil and Fellrath have also developed The Forum (al-muntada) a program of ongoing workshops, artist talks and presentations, and film screenings to take place over the course of six months, fostering connections between local artists, designers and the Saudi public. Programs include: The Workshop (al-mashghal), a series of 12-week and weekend courses open to the creative community in Jeddah, which is designed to replicate core elements of foundational curriculum in studio arts; The Art Platform (al-minassah), a three-day series of artist talks, portfolio reviews, panel discussions and presentations by international and local arts professionals during the opening days of 21,39; and Encounters (al-multaqah), a series of alternating bi-weekly screenings of the art documentary Art 21, followed by group discussions and presentations by regional artists and cultural practitioners that are either represented within the exhibition or based in Saudi Arabia; and The Lounge (al-majlis), a physical space in Gold Moor mall designed as a creative hub that is available for young creatives to meet and network before, during the exhibition installation and throughout its duration.
Additional information about participating artists and galleries, exhibitions, and programming will be announced later this year.