Philip Tinari to curate inaugural Saudi Arabian Biennial

28 December 2020

Philip Tinari.png

Published originally by ArtForum, December 11, 2020.

Philip Tinari, director and curator of Beijing’s UCCA Center for Contemporary Art, has been named as the curator of the inaugural Ad-Diriyah Biennale, to take place in 2021. The event is Saudi Arabia’s first international contemporary art biennial, and is expected to be divided into six sections featuring a total of more than seventy Saudi and international artists.

Established by Saudi Arabia’s newly formed Ministry of Culture and organized by its subsidiear Thunaiyat Ad-Diriyah Foundation, which is charged with establishing two recurring art festivals. The second of these which will occur alternately with the Ad-Diriyah Biennale, is the Islamic Biennale, debuting in 2022 and focusing on Islamic art.

The biennial’s curatorial team also includes Wejdan Reda, curator and founder of Sahaba Art Consultancy; Shixuan Luan, a curator at UCCA; and Neil Zhang, an assistant curator at the institution.

“The Ad-Diriyah Biennale will offer a new platform for exchange between the Saudi and international art worlds, as well as an unprecedented chance for broad audiences in the Kingdom to encounter global contemporary art,” said Tinari in a statement.

The new biennial is part of the government’s Vision 2030 initiative aimed at diversifying the Saudi economy and establishing a more progressive cultural profile for the country. Efforts in this regard to date have included the opening earlier this year of the first iteration of Desert X AlUla, a California-based biennial taking place in the Saudi desert, with future plans calling for the construction of eight new museums and a nature preserve.