December 19, 2019 - 21,39 Jeddah Arts - I Love You, Urgently
December 19, 2019

21,39 Jeddah Arts

Frei Otto's King Abdulaziz University Sports Hall in Jeddah.

I Love You, Urgently
January 28–April 18, 2020
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Entitled I Love You, Urgently, the seventh edition of 21,39 Jeddah Arts is a call to action in response to the environmental emergency from the specificity of a local context. At a time when Saudi Arabia is undergoing a rapid transformation, it asks local and international artists, architects, designers and thinkers to seek out tangible solutions, and to formulate alternative and symbiotic ways to inhabit our planet.

As it departs from the scientific vernacular, it emphasizes the highly personal dynamics we are living today. Through exhibitions, commissions and a series of dialogues, talks and debates taking place in the gallery spaces of the Saudi Art Council and in Al-Balad, the historic city center of Jeddah, participants are invited to address three specific themes: ideas of biomimicry, the imitation of the models, systems and elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex human problems; of adaptability; and of specificity, how to think of alternative and symbiotic ways to inhabit our planet from a local context.

Maya El Khalil, curator of the seventh edition of 21,39 Jeddah Arts, said:
“Artists, architects and designers—in short, creators—are in a unique position to explore ideas and take an active role in dismantling Anthropocene attitudes, replacing these with solutions to the environmental crisis we face and inspiring debate and dialogue. I have long been delighted and fascinated with the concepts and positive attitude of biomimicry, as well as with the notion that, by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies, we already have the solutions to a sustainable future. I hope 21,39 Jeddah Arts 2020 is a catalyst for new ways of thinking about how we live.”

Read the full curatorial statement here.

As inspiration for the program, 21,39 Jeddah Arts will also feature a special presentation documenting the pioneering work in biomimicry and adaptability of Pritzker Architecture Prize winner Frei Otto (1925–2015). In a period of hyper-consumption, his radical philosophy of “architecture before architecture” provides a powerful contrast to acceleration and excess. The presentation, curated by Maya El Khalil and Georg Vrachliotis, professor of architecture theory and director of the architecture collection at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, offers an opportunity for reflection on a vision that contributed to the urban landscape of Saudi Arabia, home to some of his most innovative projects.

Through I Love You, Urgently, 21,39 Jeddah Arts aims to directly engage its public with the environmental and sustainability dialogues currently taking place internationally, while encouraging an understanding of these debates within a local context and urging active new responses. Crucially, young people sit at the core of this ambition, and the seventh edition will continue building on the work by the Saudi Art Council to fill a demand gap in the artistic education across Saudi Arabia.

21,39 Jeddah Arts is organized by the independent, non-governmental Saudi Art Council that seeks to maintain and develop the phenomena that has, for decades, seen the city of Jeddah at the forefront of Saudi Arabia’s contemporary art scene. Illustrating the geographic coordinates of the city (21.5433°N, 39.1728°E), the annual city-wide program takes the form of curated exhibitions, educational workshops, talks and discussions, as well as other cultural events in different venues across the city, in collaboration with a range of partners. Each edition aims to cultivate and share the local arts and cultural scene, to showcase Saudi art and artists, to encourage collaboration, and to bring the international art public to Jeddah.

For media enquiries:
Helena Zedig: email, T +44 7803 596 587
Zeynep Seyhun: email, T +39 349 0034 359

21,39 Jeddah Arts
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