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Jeddah, The Inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale “The First House”.. and Others

Saudi Arabia_Jeddah

Installation view of “City as a Mosque” by Studio Bound at the Hajj Terminal, Islamic Arts Biennale, 2023. Photo by Sueraya Shaheen. Courtesy of Sueraya Shaheen.

The Inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale “The First House”

In Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the first Islamic Arts Biennale (director Sumayya Vally) is running through April 3. It came to open as a part of the kingdom’s Vision 2030, which emphasizes on preserving and upholding Saudi identity, Islam religion, and wider Islamic Culture.

Titled “Awwal Bait,” “The First House,” the exhibition place is organized into two parts with the themes ‘Sacred Direction’ and ‘Migration’. The symbolic meanings of these themes are more emphasized by the Biennale’s location. Designed by the global architecture studio OMA, its location, the Western Hajj Terminal and the city of Jeddah convey a spiritual vision of the exhibition as they have been ports of entry to millions of pilgrims on their way to Mecca.

The exhibition intertwines 280 Islamic historical objects and artifacts with 60 newly commissioned contemporary artworks by artists from across the Islamic world including Iran, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

Islamic Arts Biennale: Awwal Bait

January 23, 2023 – April 23, 2023


Installation view of LuYang, “Electromagnetic Brainology!,” 2017, at ART SG 2023. Photo Courtesy of ART SG.

Art SG From Last January Got Involved in Government Censorship

The Singapore Art Fair Art SG, held in January 2023 finally got opened after years of delay. But the sales performance was lower than expected, and in addition, concerns about government censorship were raised. Media artist LuYang (b. 1984) was the target.

Her practice deploys a broad range of references to make techno-psychedelic media works. At Art SG she presented ‘Electromagnetic Brainology! (2017)’, but the statuary board IMDA (Infocomm Media Development Authority) banned a few scenes from the video from the public revelation because of their sexuality.

As the result, the video was cut from 13 minutes to 6 minutes and two channels of the typically five-channel work were not displayed. LuYang said she received notice about this, but it was too sudden for her to make proper adjustments. Meanwhile, LuYang is currently holding a solo show “Vibrational Field” at Kunsthalle in Basel, Switzerland.

LuYang: Vibratory Field

January 20, 2023 – May 21, 2023


Wang Xingwei, ‘Sunset at the Old Summer Palace,’ 2020. Courtesy of Wang Xingwei. Credit: the artist and Gagosian

“Uncanny Valley” in Gagosian Hongkong Featuring Chinese contemporary Artists

Gagosian Honk Kong is presenting “Uncanny Valley”, a group show organized by Beijing-based curator Yang Zi.

9 contemporary Chinese artists, Owen Fu, Jiang Cheng, Li Hei Di, Li Weiyi, Nabuqi, Song Yuanyuan, Su Yu-Xin, Wang Haiyang, Wang Xiaoqu, Wang Xingwei, and Zhang Zipiao are participating with paintings, sculptures, and videos with the human figure as their common motif.

The title is borrowed from Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori’s (b. 1927) theory about feelings of uneasiness and revulsion people come to experience in front of any humanoid object with flawed similarity to a real person. Likewise, the human figures in the exhibition combine ordinary human forms with specific lacks of cohesion, prompting shocking emotions.

Uncanny Valley:

Curated by Yang Zi

January 31, 2023 – March 4, 2023

Gagosian Hong Kong

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