ALULA — AlUla is hosting an innovative photography exhibition from February 9 to March 31, showcasing the work of 19 artists from around the world, including works by Saudi photographers.
As part of the AlUla Arts Festival, AlUla collaborated with Cortona On The Move, Italy’s renowned documentary photography festival, to host a special site-specific experience in the AlJadidah Village of AlUla.
The first edition of the collaboration is called Past Forward – Time, Life and Longing, where leading local, regional and international photographers will see their works displayed on walls and courtyards, creating an exciting journey of visual storytelling.
Past Forward – Time, Life and Longing is co-curated by Arianna Rinaldo, curator and artistic director of Cortona On The Move from 2012 to 2021, and Saudi visual artist and curator Kholood Al-Bakr.
The concept at the heart of the exhibition program is the idea of time. AlUla and Cortona live and breathe the cultural heritage of their history, one in the beautiful deserts of northwest Saudi Arabia and the other in the historic heart of Italy.
Cortona On The Move is known worldwide for its emphasis on “visual storytelling” which shares stories of people and the planet and celebrates creativity through images.
The works selected for Cortona On The Move AlUla are linked to the idea of passing time, whether from a personal and human point of view, or from a global and environmental point of view.
Key themes explored in the exhibits include family, friendship, memory, change and the future.
Alongside the exhibitions, visitors can participate and immerse themselves in a variety of activities such as guided tours, meetings with the photographers, photography workshops, screenings and social evenings open to all audiences. Industry-specific activities will also take place, such as training workshops with international photo editors and related professions.
An artist residency program will accompany the exhibition, including mentoring and masterclasses to foster cultural exchange and artistic development. In this way, the project aims to develop the skills of local artists and enrich the lives of visitors and communities.
Serving as a crossroads between three continents and a gateway between East and West, AlUla was built over successive civilizations and was for millennia a place of cultural exchange. RCU’s broader long-term plan is to reinvigorate, protect and preserve AlUla, with its community at the heart of its development and future.
Nora AlDabal, Director of Arts and Creative Planning at RCU said, “Photography and AlUla go hand in hand. Photographers come from all over the world to capture our landscapes, our heritage sites and our culture. There is already a vibrant community of photographers in AlUla and they will no doubt be delighted to participate in this program.
“Our focus on the arts at AlUla has been amplified recently with the announcement of many exciting initiatives and collaborations. We view this latest collaboration with Cortona On The Move as a milestone as we continue to develop AlUla as a center for creative collaboration. Photography is an essential form of the arts.
“The subjective nature of this art form is exactly what makes it so interesting, as it flows and changes with each artist’s perspective. Our choice to partner with Cortona On The Move was driven by their expertise and shared values to deliver exceptional cultural experiences and enable creative communities and local people to be truly inspired to take their art form and their higher level interest.
Veronica Nicolardi, director of the Cortona On The Move festival said: “Collaborating with RCU in this special project dedicated to the historical and culturally rich city of AlUla is very exciting for us, especially since this is the first time that Saudi Arabia has collaborated with a European festival of photography.”
Arianna Rinaldo and Kholood Al-Bakr, Co-curators of Cortona On The Move AlUla said, “Past Forward promises to be a creative amalgamation of art, culture, history and life in imagery.
“The exhibited artists from all continents explore different perspectives of photography and combine a multitude of themes merging the past with the future to produce a truly one-of-a-kind experience that draws inspiration from AlUla’s cultural heritage while looking towards its future.”
Cortona On The Move was born in 2011 from an idea of the Cultural Association ONTHEMOVE, whose aim is to disseminate and promote contemporary photography in search of new visions and original forms of visual communication.
Now in its 12th edition, the festival offers continuous interaction between industry experts and fosters the constant search for works that document the continuous evolution of visual language – all this in the exceptional setting of the Etruscan town of Cortona, in Tuscany (Italy).