January 9, 2020 - 21,39 Jeddah Arts - 21,39 Jeddah Arts
January 9, 2020

21,39 Jeddah Arts

Marwah AlMugait, I lived once (still), 2020. Video installation. Courtesy of the artist. Commissioned by the Saudi Art Council.

21,39 Jeddah Arts
January 28–April 18, 2020

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The seventh edition of 21,39 Jeddah Arts (January 28–April 18, 2020)) is a call to action in response to the environmental emergency from the specificity of a local context. As Saudi Arabia imagines and plans a new future, 60 local and international artists, architects, designers and thinkers will pose questions around environmental sustainability and explore alternative and symbiotic ways to inhabit our planet through a city-wide programme of exhibitions, commissions, talks and debates, and an extensive public education program. 21,39 Jeddah Arts is presented by the Saudi Art Council, an independent initiative aimed at cultivating the local Saudi art scene and building bridges with the international art world. 

Curated by Maya El Khalil, the program’s central exhibition, I Love You, Urgently contends with the global climate emergency through a series of individual artistic explorations by 22 artists: Ayman Zedani, Aziz Jamal, Cristiana De Marchi, Daniah Al Saleh, Duran Lantink, Fahad bin Naif & Alaa Tarabzouni, Farah K. Behbehani, Filwa Nazer, Maha Nasrallah, Manal Al Dowayan, Marwah Almugait, Mohammad Alfaraj, Mohammed Kazem, Muhannad Shono, Obadah Aljefri, Omar Abduljawad, Nasser Al Salem, Nojoud Al Sudairi, Raja’a Khalid, Sultan Bin Fahd and Zahrah Alghamdi. 

The exhibition's unexpected address, I Love You, Urgently, departs from the often overly-scientific, divisive, or bureaucratic language of global summits, the media, and environmental policy. Instead, it emphasizes the highly personal nature of the crisis, focussing on the individual artists’ contexts—geographic, cultural, and social—and their own journeys into a collective experience, driven by emotion and curious research. Each artist has responded to 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. 

Further information about I Love You, Urgently and the participating artists’ work, can be found in Maya El Khalil’s curatorial statement.

In a period of hyper-consumption, lessons can be taken from an architectural history that predates the rapid urban development of the last century. The legacy of Pritzker Architecture Prize winner Frei Otto (1925–2015)—a pioneer of light structures and biomimicry—provides a powerful contrast to acceleration and excess. As inspiration for I Love You, Urgently, there will be an exhibition of Frei Otto’s architectural models, sketches and research, documenting his work in biomimicry and adaptability, and his radical philosophy of “architecture before architecture.” Architecture of Tomorrow. Frei Otto’s Legacy in Saudi Arabia, 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.

Transdisciplinary perspectives on the challenges and opportunities of the current environmental crisis will be offered by Propositions for a Poetic Ecosystem, bringing together artworks by six Saudi and Swiss artists, Zahrah Al Ghamdi, Nasser Al Salem, Marie Griesmar, Sandra Kühne, Muhannad Shono and Nadya Suvorova, who since 2016 have worked with acclaimed scientists from different disciplines both in Switzerland and Saudi Arabia during the artists-in-labs program’s international residency exchange. Curated by Irène Hediger and Flurin Fischer, the exhibition is a speculative, tangible and poetic manifestation of the artists’ inquiries into leading ecological research on the Red Sea and the Swiss Alps’ ecosystems, shedding light on the importance of water as the primary medium through which we feel the effects of climate change. 

A further exhibition inspired by the landscape of Al Ula will be announced soon. 


For media enquiries or to register for press accreditation:  
Helena Zedig: helena [​at​] picklespr.com / T +44 7803 596 587
Zeynep Seyhun: zeynep [​at​] picklespr.com / T +39 349 0034 359

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