RIYADH — The National Pavilion of Saudi Arabia is set to make a significant impact at the 60th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia with "Shifting Sands: A Battle Song," a compelling multimedia installation by renowned Saudi artist Manal AlDowayan.

Drawing inspiration from the transformative role of women in Saudi society, AlDowayan's work is a testament to the power of community and collective voice.

In a unique approach to creating this piece, AlDowayan conducted three participatory workshops across Saudi Arabia — in Al Khobar, Jeddah, and Riyadh — engaging over 1,000 women in a creative process that included group singing sessions and discussions on visibility and empowerment. These workshops were not only a means to gather material for the installation but also an opportunity for women to share their stories and perspectives, further enriching the artwork's narrative.

"For this artwork, I have returned to my community of women to explore the history and transformation that we want to represent," AlDowayan remarks. "Shifting Sands: A Battle Song is not just an artwork; it's a declaration of solidarity, an affirmation of our identity, and a challenge to the narratives that have historically confined us."

The installation, which integrates the voices, texts, and drawings created by participants, will be unveiled at the Venice Biennale, running from April 20 to November 24, 2024, at the Arsenale, Sale d’Armi. This presentation underscores Saudi Arabia's evolving cultural landscape and the global relevance of its artistic expressions.

Curators Jessica Cerasi and Maya El Khalil, along with assistant curator Shadin AlBulaihed, highlight the installation's universal appeal: "Manal AlDowayan’s work for the Biennale di Venezia encapsulates a dynamic vision of womanhood that, while rooted in the Saudi context, speaks to global themes of autonomy and solidarity."

Dina Amin, CEO of the Visual Arts Commission, expressed pride in AlDowayan's participation: "Manal AlDowayan’s work is a profound expression of Saudi women’s voices on the international stage. We are honored to support her in bringing this powerful message to the Venice Biennale."

"Shifting Sands: A Battle Song" promises to be a poignant contribution to the Biennale Arte 2024, showcasing the strength and spirit of Saudi women and their role in shaping a modern narrative for the Kingdom.

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