The second edition of the Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale, titled After Rain, closed its doors, attracting over 222,341 visitors between February 20 and May 24, 2024.

This is more than double the number of visitors to the inaugural edition of the Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale held in 2022. Organized by the Diriyah Biennale Foundation, After Rain took place in the JAX District, a creative district with industrial heritage in the historic town of Diriyah.

Featuring work by artists from Saudi Arabia and around the world, the exhibition explored the role of a contemporary art biennial in a country undergoing rapid social change. After Rain featured 177 works, by 100 artists from 44 countries, of which 47 works were new commissions supported by the Diriyah Biennale Foundation.

Mohammad AlFaraj, The Whispers of Today Are Heard in the Garden of Tomorrow (2024. Courtesy of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation, photo by Marco Cappelletti

Under the artistic direction of Ute Meta Bauer, together with co-curators Wejdan Reda, Rose Lejeune, Anca Rujoiu, Ana Salazar and adjunct curator Rahul Gudipudi, After Rain was conceived as a vibrant platform rather than a static framework. The multi-format Biennale consisted of an exhibition, the Biennale Encounters series of public programs, a film program, performances and storytelling, research projects, and dialogues.

After Rain has been an incredible and rewarding journey for me. I am deeply grateful to my co-curators and the entire Diriyah Biennale Foundation team for their tireless support and dedication. It has been a joy to witness the curiosity and engagement from the local communities, and the unprecedented visitor numbers and participation in the public program are a dream outcome of everyone’s incredible work.

Artistic Director Ute Meta Bauer

Of the total 222,341 visitors, over 32% were young people (under 32 years old) and 4,5% were children (under 18 years old). More than 75% of visitors were residents of Saudi Arabia. The diverse public program attracted over 11,000 participants. Over 8,000 children from 200 schools visited the Biennale as part of the educational program, and more than 2,900 people joined for 463 guided tours through the show. A large majority of visitors came from the local communities in Diriyah and Riyadh.

After Rain has been covered in various national and international media outlets including Alsharq Alwsat, Aletihad Newspaper, Alhayat Newspaper, The Art Newspaper (English and Chinese editions), Frieze, Wallpaper*, ArtNews, ArtAsiaPacific, Monopol, Casa Brutus, Ocula, Elle Indonesia, Vogue (Arabia, Turkey and Philippines editions), Sydney Morning Herald, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Il Sole 24 Ore, Le Quotidien de l’Art, and many others.

As part of the closing week, the Diriyah Biennale Foundation hosted a rich program of events, including panel talks, performances, concerts, and DJ sets, which were attended by families and members of local communities as well as international guests.

Nazgol Ansarinia, Pillars (2014–18).
Courtesy of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation, photo by Marco Cappelletti

I am immensely proud of what the Diriyah Biennale Foundation team has achieved with the second edition of the Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale. The impressive visitor numbers are a testament to the powerful role of art in bringing people together, engaging and attracting local communities, and in welcoming international guests to witness and take part in the growth of a strong cultural scene in Saudi Arabia.

Aya Al Bakree, CEO of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation
Installation view: Tiffany Chung, Energy Policy vol.166: potential CO2 emissions until 2050 by key fossil fuel and coal extraction projects [each>1 Gt] worldwide (2023), center; Simryn Gill, Dalam (2001), left background, on wall; Ade Darmawan, Tuban (2019), left background, on floor; Christine Fenzl, Women of Riyadh (2023), right background, on wall.
Photo by Marco Cappellettii, courtesy of Diriyah Biennale Foundation.

The Diriyah Biennale Foundation extends its thanks to the curatorial team and all participating artists, institutions, lenders, partners, and supporters who contributed to the success of After Rain.

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