Writing Art History Since 2002

First Title

The Diriyah Biennale Foundation (DBF) announced the appointment of its international core curatorial team for the 2024 Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale, led by Artistic Director Ute Meta Bauer.

The 2024 Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale curatorial team
TOP LEFT TO RIGHT: Ana Salazar, Dian Arumningtyas, Ute Meta Bauer, Wejdan Reda, Anca Rujoiu; BOTTOM LEFT TO RIGHT: Alanood A Alsudairi, Rose Lejeune, Rahul Gudipudi. Courtesy of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation.

Taking place in the town of Diriyah, adjacent to the capital city of Riyadh , the Biennale will open on February 24, 2024, and run until May 24, 2024. The Biennale is a new platform for contemporary art fostering dialogue between Saudi Arabia and other parts of the world. The curatorial team of the 2024 Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale is led by globally renowned curator Ute Meta Bauer as Artistic Director and comprised of DBF curator Wejdan Reda, (SA), and curators Rahul Gudipudi, (IN), Rose Lejeune (UK), and Anca Rujoiu (RO). They bring together experience and insight from diverse geographic backgrounds, extending the Biennale exhibition with artistic formats such as performance, sound, research-based practices, and digital forms.

The curatorial team of the 2024 Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale is led by globally renowned curator Ute Meta Bauer as Artistic Director and comprised of DBF curator Wejdan Reda, (SA), and curators Rahul Gudipudi, (IN), Rose Lejeune (UK), and Anca Rujoiu (RO). They bring together experience and insight from diverse geographic backgrounds, extending the Biennale exhibition with artistic formats such as performance, sound, research-based practices, and digital forms. The Biennale is being developed as a living entity rather than a static framework, with a strong focus on conversation and process. Collaborations and partnerships will connect the contributing artists and architects with local cultural producers, as well as musicians, nonprofit entities, restaurateurs, traders, and farmers, pointing to how art practices today engage with society on multiple levels. The intention is to create spaces of personal encounters and exchange with and between diverse communities. Since April 2023, the Biennale Encounters program has already been offering a regular series of public gatherings, artist talks, workshops, and other activities within the JAX District.

Additional members of the core team include Laura Miotto and Savina Nicolini / SNA (Scenography), Attitudine Forma (Art Fabrication), Kai von Rabenau / mono.studio (Graphic Design), Ebrahim Hassan (Lead Arabic Editor), Laura Schleussner (Managing Editor), and Lucas Goy / les éclaireurs (Lighting Design), who will support the curatorial vision of a multi-sensory exhibition experience.

In preparation for the 2024 Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale, Bauer and members of the core team undertook research trips to various regions across Saudi Arabia, including Dammam, Khobar, Al-hasaa, Riyadh, Jeddah, Khamis Mushait, Abha, and Rijaal Almaa. These visits focused on dialogue with Saudi artists of different generations to learn about the country’s rich and diverse cultural scene.

Ute Meta Bauer, Artistic Director of the 2024 Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale: “I am delighted and honoured to be part of this remarkable project. The team of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation and the team of this edition of the Contemporary Art Biennale bring together a breadth of expertise in terms of geographies and skills, which provides an invaluable context for our process-oriented approach. Saudi Arabia has a long, rich history of art, and it has been a privilege to encounter so many practices over months of research. Our aim is to engage deeply with the location and the conversations taking place here, while creating new connections within the region and beyond.”

Aya Al Bakree, CEO of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation: “It is with great pleasure that we announce the core team for the next edition of the Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale. The expertise that this strong team brings to the Diriyah Biennale Foundation not only expands our body of knowledge, but also adds to the diversity of art forms that we showcase and the audiences that we reach. Following the great success of the inaugural Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale in 2022, this edition’s team will make a significant contribution to the vitality of contemporary art in Saudi Arabia and to the presence of Saudi culture on the world stage.”

The Artistic Director was selected by an independent Advisory Committee, whose members include Rafal Niemojewski (chair), Raneem Farsi, Antonia Carver, Sara Binladen and Akram Zaatari. Several candidates were approached, and a decision was made based on criteria following DBF’s curatorial principles. DBF is dedicated to establishing a robust curatorial team for the long term, with a collective commitment to capacity building.

With an awareness of Diriyah’s specific site, the 2024 Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale intends to connect artists from Saudi Arabia, the Gulf region, and other parts of the world. The Biennale’s exhibition, running over a three-month period, will feature, in addition to existing artworks and research projects, newly commissioned art and architectural projects in a series of repurposed former warehouses. During this time, a live program of performances, concerts, and poetry readings will extend from the Biennale’s site into its surrounding environment, including the Wadi Hanifah. A number of these works reflect upon and engage with the unprecedented process of transformation that is taking place in Saudi Arabia today.

The Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale is organised by the Diriyah Biennale Foundation, a public institution established in 2020 dedicated to nurturing creative expression and instilling an appreciation for culture and the arts in Saudi Arabia. The Diriyah Biennale Foundation also produces the world’s only Islamic Arts Biennale, taking place in Jeddah. The two Biennales are organised and developed by the Foundation in alternate years. The Diriyah Biennale Foundation headquarters are located in the JAX District in Diriyah alongside artist studios, a department of the Ministry of Culture, and the future location of a contemporary art museum.

Diriyah, on the northwestern outskirts of Riyadh, is the historic home of the House of Saud and their royal residence At-Turaif, a Najdi mud-brick settlement founded in the fifteenth century that has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2009. Initially an oasis, Diriyah formed around the Wadi Hanifah, a valley with a seasonal river, where human presence dates back some 80,000 years – a history that is currently being explored archaeologically.

The Artistic Director and Curatorial Team

Artistic Director, 2024 DCAB

Ute Meta Bauer (born 1958 in Stuttgart, Germany) is an educator and curator in the field of contemporary art. Since 2013, she has been the Founding Director of NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore and a Professor in the School of Art, Design, and Media at Nanyang Technological University. She currently co-chairs the Master of Arts in Museum Studies and Curatorial Practices and is the Principal Investigator for the three-year research project “Climate Crisis and Cultural Loss.”

Bauer has held leadership positions in multiple cultural and academic institutions: Professor of Theory, Practice, and Communication of Contemporary Art and Vice Rector of International Affairs at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna (1996–2006); and Founding Director of the Office for Contemporary Art Norway in Oslo (2002–05). At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, MA, Bauer served as Director of the Visual Art Program (2005–09), as the Founding Director of MIT’s program in Art, Culture, and Technology (ACT) (2009–12), and at the Royal College of Art London she was Dean of the School of Fine Art (2012/2013). As Director of the NTU CCA Singapore, which brings together exhibitions, residencies, and research, she curated and co-curated solo exhibitions by Tomás Saraceno (2015), Allan Sekula (2015), Simryn Gill (2015), Joan Jonas (2016), Amar Kanwar (2016), Tarek Atoui (2018), Jef Geys (2018/19), Siah Armajani (2019), and Trinh T. Minh-ha (2020), as well as numerous group shows, including Incomplete Urbanism (2016), The Oceanic (2017/18), Trees of Life – Knowledge in Material (2018), The Posthuman City (2019/20), and Non-Aligned (2020).

Bauer was also a co-curator of Documenta11 (2002) on the team of artistic director Okwui Enwezor and served as artistic director for the 3rd Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art (2004). Together with Paul C. Ha, Director of the MIT List Visual Arts Center, she co-curated the US Pavilion at the 56th Biennale di Venezia (2015), featuring video and performance pioneer Joan Jonas, for which they received honorary mention for best national pavilion. Most recently she curated the Singapore Pavilion at the 59th Biennale di Venezia, presenting Shubigi Rao’s Pulp III: A Short Biography of the Banished Book, and she was a curator of the 17th Istanbul Biennial alongside David Teh and Amar Kanwar (both in 2022). Recent pubclications as editor and co-editor include: The Impossibility of Mapping (Urban Asia) (World Scientific, 2020); Climates. Habitats. Environments. (MIT Press and NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore, 2022); the monograph Joan Jonas: Moving of the Land (Walther König, 2022); Pulp III: A Short Biography of the Banished Book (National Arts Council Singapore, 2023); Of Haunted Spaces: Cinema, Heterotopias, and China’s Hyperurbanization on the films of Ella Raidel (NUS Press, 2023); and, co-edited with Dr. Karin Oen and Boon Hui Tan, SEA: Contemporary Art in Southeast Asia (Weiss Publications, 2022).

Wejdan Reda, DBF Curator and Co-Curator, 2024 DCAB

Wejdan Reda (born in 1992 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia) is the founder of Sahaba, a Saudi-based art consultancy and research hub working with artists, galleries, and public institutions. Co-curator of the first Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale (2021), she also curated Intimate Dimensions (2020), a group exhibition exploring the notion of constructed spaces and built environments at Hafez Gallery, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. In 2020 she was a Curatorial Fellow at Art Jameel, researching public art projects commissioned in Jeddah in the 1970s. She was also co-curator of Every Second in Between (2018), a large-scale public art commission by artist Kyung Hwa Shon in White City, London, United Kingdom. Initially studying architecture, Reda became interested in curating while pursuing her BA in Contemporary Media Practices at Westminster University, London, after which she returned to Saudi Arabia and worked in the Athr Gallery, Jeddah (2015–16). Reda holds an MA in Curating Contemporary Art from the Royal College of Art (2018).

Rahul Gudipudi, Adjunct Curator, 2024 DCAB

Rahul Gudipudi (born 1987 in Jodhpur, India) is Senior Curator at the Center for Art, Research and Alliances (CARA) in New York, United States, where he oversees CARA’s programs across exhibitions, publications, and fellowships. He was previously Exhibitions Curator and later Senior Curator at Art Jameel (2019–23), leading on exhibitions and discursive-performative programs at the Jameel Arts Centre in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and at Hayy Jameel in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Previously, he was on the curatorial advisory and editorial boards for The New Alphabet School program (2019–22) at Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) in Berlin, Germany. He is currently on the advisory board of The Story Of, a foundation and transdisciplinary learning platform in Goa, India. He is also a board member of the Anthropocene Commons, a global research and response network organizing education and initiatives on climate change adaptation and collective action.

Rose Lejeune, Co-Curator, 2024 DCAB

Rose Lejeune (born 1980 in Cheltenham, United Kingdom) is an independent curator based in London. In 2019 she founded Performance Exchange, a United-Kingdom-wide program which works with commercial galleries and has established a network of museums to present and acquire performance works. She is also Curator for the Delfina Foundation’s Collecting as Practice, which engages with both historical museums and the future of collection development in a global context. Lejeune has worked internationally with organizations including Abu Dhabi Art, LOOP Barcelona, and OÖ Landes-Kultur Linz and was Program Lead for the British Council’s Art Criticism and Curatorial Skills Development program across the GCC. In the United Kingdom, Lejeune previously held curatorial positions at Serpentine Gallery and Art on the Underground among others. Currently, she is finishing a PhD in Curating at Goldsmiths College, focusing on the institutionalization and marketization of performance art.

Anca Rujoiu, Co-Curator, 2024 DCAB

Anca Rujoiu (born 1984 in Bucharest, Romania) is a curator and editor with more than fourteen years of experience working in contemporary art in Western and Eastern Europe as well as the Asia-Pacific region. She was a member of the founding team of the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore (2013–18), first as Curator for Exhibitions and later as Head of Publications. In 2019 she was the co-curator of the third edition of the Art Encounters Biennial, Timișoara, Romania. As a member of the curatorial initiative FormContent (2011–13) in London, United Kingdom, she co-initiated the nomadic program It’s Moving from I to It. More recent curatorial projects include the Inventory of the Week (2023), the National Center for Dance Bucharest, and Solidarity is a Verb (2022), Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, Germany. Rujoiu is a PhD candidate at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia; her research focuses on institution building, self-organization, and alternative ways of constructing and writing histories.

About Diriyah Biennale Foundation

Inspired by the changes taking place in Saudi Arabia and the heritage site of Diriyah, the Diriyah Biennale Foundation assumes a critical role in nurturing creative expression and instilling an appreciation for culture and the arts, and their transformative potential. The Foundation aspires to be a catalyst for lifelong learning and serves Saudi Arabia’s communities by offering opportunities to engage with the burgeoning local art scene. At this historical moment of evolution and growth in Saudi Arabia, these Biennales will showcase some of the world’s leading artists, drive cultural exchange between the Kingdom and international communities, promote dialogue and understanding, and further establish Saudi Arabia as an important cultural center.

About the Ministry of Culture, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

The Ministry of Culture is leading a cultural transformation to develop a rich ecosystem that nurtures creativity, unlocks the economic potential of the sector, and unleashes new and inspiring forms of expression. As part of these efforts, the Ministry of Culture is seeking to bolster the presence of Saudi heritage and culture at events across the Kingdom and abroad, enabling participants to engage with the Kingdom’s rich and diverse history and preserve Saudi heritage for generations to come.

For more information, please visit biennale.org.sa

Related Posts

Scroll to Top