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AlUla Arts Festival Returns for its Second Edition with a Saudi First Exhibition on Andy Warhol, Guided Art Hikes Around Wadi AlFann

AlUla Arts Festival Returns

AlUla Arts Festival runs from February 16 to 28, activating multiple venues in the stunning ancient city within the central theme of Living in Colour

Visitors can experience immersive art and follow a trail of curated public art installations across AlJadidah, AlUla’s arts district

Part of broader AlUla Moments calendar, AlUla Arts Festival boasts art exhibitions, exclusive performances, guided tours, and more

The AlUla Arts Festival returns for its second edition on February 16, with an expansive program of events, exhibitions, and creative initiatives taking place across 12 days in the stunning landscape of the ancient city of AlUla.

Inaugurated in 2022 as part of the broader AlUla Moments calendar of events and festivals, AlUla Arts Festival is set to become a must-do annual event on the global arts scene. The festival program boasts of art, culture, photography, as well as exclusive performances and immersive experiences across various locations.

Themed ‘Living in Color’, AlUla Arts Festival 2023 explores art that revels in the polychromatic, imbuing the unique environment with dazzling hues through curated public art installations and special exhibitions, including FAME: Andy Warhol in AlUla, which brings artworks by the American contemporary artist to the kingdom for the first time.

FAME is produced in collaboration with The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and curated by the museum’s director Patrick Moore to respond specifically to the mirrored building Maraya, a dedicated arts and culture venue in AlUla. The exhibition will feature Warhol’s famous paintings and prints of Hollywood stars and celebrities alongside his ground-breaking installation Silver Clouds and archival photography.

FAME will also be accompanied by a robust program of performances, talks, and workshops, including the 13 Most Beautiful, large-scale projections of Warhol’s silent films set to a specially commissioned live soundtrack by cult rock duo Dean and Britta which will take place at Maraya on 16 February.

With a spotlight on the inspiring desert landscapes of AlUla, guided art tours offer visitors a chance to traverse AlUla’s unique landscape through the lens of art. The Art in the Landscape Guided Hike will introduce audiences to the Wadi AlFann landscapes, which will be the site of art commissions by the likes of world-renowned artists James Turrell, Agnes Denes, and Michael Heizer and regional heroes Manal Al Dowayan and Ahmed Mater within the 65-square kilometer valley, with the first works to be available from 2024.

Aimed at adventurous art lovers, the ticketed guided hike will last six hours, with participants navigating the canyons and stunning desert trail while learning about the Wadi AlFann vision and artist narrative. The hike will also include a visit to the Art in the Landscape public art installations that were originally part of Desert X AlUla 2022.

Continuing AlUla’s program of artist residency ‘Palimpsest of Time’, from 17 February to 18 March is an exhibition and open studio bringing together 13 artists from the current and previous AlUla Artists Residency programme The multidisciplinary artists have all lived and worked in the unique setting of AlUla, fostering dialogue and collaboration with AlUla’s scientific and local population. The exhibition is hosted in Mabiti- a guest house and palm grove home to the artist residency – an additional installation at Madrasat Addeera celebrates all 25 creatives who have experienced the residency program so far.

AlUla’s new and exciting arts, culture and dining village, AlJadidah will be the setting for a range of public art and interactive events.

100 Best Arabic Posters in AlJadidah, presents eye-catching graphic designs from the Arab world. Launched in 2015 at the German University of Cairo, the unique platform showcases the latest innovations within the region’s contemporary visual culture, serving as a reference for graphic designers, visual artists, and scholars within the Arab world and beyond.

A compelling and immersive installation has been commissioned by Arts AlUla for AlUla’s Oasis. The artwork, titled Resonant Shell by artists Nathalie Harb and Youmna Saba will provide a meditative experience as visitors enter an architectural structure that acoustically isolates external sounds, bringing to focus a sound-work drawn from AlUla’s desert and geology. Located in the Oasis, the site-specific artwork takes the shape of a tower with mudbrick and fabric as its material.

Led by Hukat AlFann, the Living in Colour Guided Tours will take visitors through the Community Square in the Arts District and Oasis to see newly commissioned and temporary public art, including community artworks and murals by artist eL Seed, as well as the unique community hand-painted urban carpet in AlJadidah. The duration of the ticketed tour is 75 minutes, though visitors can also conduct a self-guided tour with the help of AlUla Art’s print and digital guides.

Of Myhrr and Silver Scent Walking Tours will evoke the rich history of the Incense Road, leading visitors through an immersive journey of scents, from myrrh to botanicals to roasted Arabic coffee. Weaving through the oasis, AlJadidah, and Old Town, the ticketed tour will also offer encounters with sound and music related to the ancient trading route.

AlJadidah is also the site for the specially constructed Cinema AlJadidah and a curated film program AlUla Cinema Week. With programming in partnership with the Red Sea International Film Festival, this cozy and atmospheric outdoor cinema will play a special selection of films from Saudi Arabia, the wider Arab world, and beyond. Complementing the FAME: Andy Warhol in AlUla exhibition the cinema will also have a curated Warhol weekend of documentaries, features and artist films. The film program will be complemented by talks and a photography exhibition dedicated to Egyptian female cinema icons.

In addition, returning by popular demand, Fringe – the AlUla Performing Arts Festival will enliven AlJadidah with street-style performances, music and arts for audiences of all ages and abilities. Free to all to enjoy each evening during the festival.

Specifically aimed at engaging the local community through art, the Madrasat Addeera Program comprises arts and crafts workshops at various levels in subjects such as wood carving, textile weaving, palm frond weaving, geometry, and decorative design.

Additionally, the AlUla Canon Young People’s Program, from February 20 to 28, will give budding photographers the opportunity to learn visual storytelling through a workshop that will culminate in an outdoor exhibition.

Arts AlUla Festival will run until February 28, with some programs extending through May.

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