Launch of Residency Program

Launch of Residency Program

Art Residency | Al Balad

Art Residency Al Balad, 2020. Photo: Mohammed Aleskandarani. 

October 12, 2020
Launch of Residency Program
October 12, 2020
Rubat Khunji
Al Balad District
7291 Balilah Ln.
Saudi Arabia

Ministry of Culture announces the launch of Art Residency | Al Balad and the completion of its selection committee process for 2020–21.

Art Residency | Al Balad is pleased to announce the launch of its virtual residency phase, to be conducted throughout 2020.

Art Residency | Al Balad is the first residency program in Saudi Arabia. Launched by the Saudi Ministry of Culture as part of its Art Residency initiative, it is sponsored by the Quality of Life program under the umbrella of Vision 2030.

With a mandate to foster international network-building between Saudi and international artists and to encourage dialogue and cultural exchange within Jeddah’s dynamic art scene and within the local community in Al Balad, the program will host international and Saudi artists in revived historic buildings in Al Balad, Jeddah’s Historic District. 19 visual artists, curators and writers from 13 countries will participate in the program, alongside 23 Saudi artists and writers from five regions in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and in an effort to support artistic development and practice despite the travel restrictions in place, Art Residency | Al Balad has opted to adapt to the current circumstances by launching a virtual program for the remainder of 2020, and to complete the program on-site in Jeddah in 2021. The virtual program, which comprises three-week residency cycles, aims to provide a platform for dialogue and collaboration between residents, local practitioners in Jeddah and a wider network of artists and curators participating in the project. In addition to providing support to develop residents’ proposed research and production projects to be implemented in on-site cycles in Jeddah Historic District in 2021, each cycle comprises 3 weeks of events and activities aimed at contextualizing the historic area of Al Balad.

Each residency cycle will explore a range of questions, guided by its residents’ practice, interests and proposed research questions in relation to the historical neighborhood of Al Balad. The themes being explored range from questions around space and time, public space, urban development in the context of social and cultural change, migration and hajj, politics of food, climate change, gender, notions of collectivity, community and solidarity in present and future times, tangible and intangible heritage, history, questions of identity in relation to community, art and contemporary culture, forms of caring, sound, music and materiality.

Participating residents have been chosen by a Selection Committee of specialists from a pool of 429 applications to an open call announced by the Saudi Ministry of Culture in the beginning of 2020. The Selection Committee has made the selection for the five open-call cycles of the 2020–21 residency programs. It comprises leading international curators, residency directors and artists appointed based on their thought-provoking personal practice, unique approach to community, and dynamic engagement with practitioners from a wide variety of disciplines. They are:

Anna Lovecchio, Curator of the Residencies Programme at NTU CCA Singapore; Ayman Yossri Daydban, multi-disciplinary artist working from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and part of the permanent collections of the Guggenheim Museum, Centre Pompidou, among others; Maya El Khalil, independent curator, based in London; Nathalie Anglès, co-founder and Executive Director of Residency Unlimited (RU); Noor Aldabbagh, Consultant at the Ministry of Culture, overseeing residencies and cultural incubators.


Art Residency | Al Balad is operated by Athr Gallery, Jeddah in partnership with Hospitalfield, UK.

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