Sultanate of Oman unveils team for 60th La Biennale di Venezia - GulfToday

Sultanate of Oman unveils team for 60th La Biennale di Venezia

alia al fars

Curator and artist Alia Al Farsi and Omani artist Adham Al Farsi.

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

The Sultanate of Oman has announced its second national Pavilion at the 60th International Art Exhibition — La Biennale di Venezia. Titled Malath-Haven, it will run April 20 - November 24. Curated by artist and gallerist Alia Al Farsi, the exhibition in Venice showcases new artworks by prominent Omani contemporary artists Dr. Ali Al Jabri, Essa Al Mufarji, Sarah Al Olaqi, Adham Al Farsi and Alia Al Farsi. In line with the 2024 Biennale’s curatorial theme Foreigners Everywhere (Stranieri Ovunque), the artists, hailing from various backgrounds, will present a body of work that attempts to capture the essence of Oman’s multicultural legacy.

Sayyid Saeed Al Busaidi, Commissioner, Undersecretary for the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth for Culture, said: “We are delighted to return to this enchanting city for the second time, showcasing the rich artistic heritage of our nation. Our presentation will spotlight a diverse collection of contemporary artwork created by talented Omani artists. Additionally, the Ministry is committed to fostering artistic development nationwide through various programmes aligned with the Venice exhibition. The participation of the Sultanate of Oman in the international art exhibition holds significant importance within the framework of intercultural dialogue and human interaction diversity.

“As a platform renowned for its celebration of global artistic expression, the Biennale Arte offers Oman a unique opportunity to showcase its rich cultural heritage and artistic innovation on an international stage. Through participation, Oman contributes to fostering cross-cultural understanding and appreciation, promoting dialogue among diverse societies, and emphasising the interconnectedness of humanity through the universal language of art. This engagement not only highlights Oman’s commitment to cultural exchange, but also strengthens bonds of cooperation and mutual respect among nations, ultimately enriching the global cultural landscape.”

ali al jabri  Dr. Ali Al Jabri is an Omani artist,  Artist Sarah Al Olaqi will show her work in Venice.

Curator Alia Al Farsi said: “The four chosen artists representing the Sultanate of Oman at the 60th International Art Exhibition have each made noteworthy and commendable contributions to their communities, effectively revitalising the contemporary art scene in Oman throughout their careers. Their impact extends beyond their artistic endeavours, serving as inspiration for new generations of artists.”

The Sultanate of Oman is located on the south-eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. Formerly a maritime empire, it is the oldest continuously independent state in the Arab world and is ruled by the Sultan of Oman, Haitham bin Tariq Al Said. The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth is the governmental body in the Sultanate of Oman, responsible for promoting and preserving Omani culture and heritage; it is the Commissioner of the Oman Pavilion in Venice. The Ministry’s mandate for the arts comprises fine arts, theatre, music and cinema with the goal of enhancing national and international engagement through world-class programmes of exhibitions, festivals and international cultural exchange.

 Essa Al Mufarji,  Essa Al Mufarji, Omani artist.

The Omani Government has a long history of supporting culture. Investment in the country’s infrastructure to expand the visual arts sector began in the early 1960s with art education being made compulsory in schools, followed by the establishment of the British Council in Oman in 1972 to develop the cultural skills of young Omanis, the introduction of visual art programmes at universities and the establishment of the Omani Society for Fine Arts by the Government in 1993. As the official arts hub of Oman, the Society’s role is to sponsor and raise awareness of the fine arts, to enrich Omani and Arabic culture and heritage, protect artists’ rights, to encourage the younger generation of upcoming artists and strengthen relationships with members of the wider Arabic and international cultural community. 

In 2020, by Royal Decree, the Ministries of Art Affairs, Heritage and Culture, Sports and Youth amalgamated to create the Ministry of Culture Sports and Youth, led by Sayyid Theyazin bin Haitham bin Tariq Al Said.  The government’s backing of the Sultanate of Oman’s Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2024 is seen as another major step in the Ministry’s overall mission to support visual arts in Oman and to reinforce its position in the global cultural community.

 Sayyid Saeed  Sayyid Saeed Al Busaidi, Commissioner, Undersecretary for the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth for Culture.

Alia Al Farsi is a leading figure in Oman’s contemporary art sector. She has participated in numerous exhibitions, both at local and international levels and notably, was a keynote speaker at the UAE Embassy in 2023, where she contributed to a virtual panel discussion on the Fine Arts scene in Oman and the UAE. Her work has been showcased in prestigious exhibitions worldwide, such as the KunstRai exhibition in Amsterdam (2022). Al Farsi held a solo exhibition at 15 Gallery in Riyadh in 2021 and her international presence extends to the London Global Art Fair ‘Art 15’ in 2015 and the London Arabia Art and Fashion Week in 2017.

The artist also took part in the First International Symposium in Morocco, in 2016. Another noteworthy collaboration was her solo exhibition titled Strings & Love alongside renowned writer Ahlam Mosteghanemi in Geneva in 2015. According to curator Adriano Pedrosa, Curator of the 60th International Art Exhibition, the title of the 2024 Biennale Arte has a dual meaning. “First of all,” he says, “wherever you go, you will always encounter foreigners — they/we are everywhere. Secondly, that no matter where you find yourself, you are always, truly, and deep down inside, a foreigner.” Pedrosa has a degree in law from the Universidade Estadual do Rio de Janeiro and a Master’s degree in Art and Critical Writing from the California Institute of the Arts. He is first South American curator in the history of the Venice Biennale.

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