A new modern museum is planned for the vast AlUla heritage region of Saudi Arabia. It has signed a partnership deal with The Centre Pompidou that will witness the French institution loan works to the Middle Eastern kingdom.
According to the UK curator Iwona Blazwick, the Museum is also developing a permanent collection of works, including pieces by artists like Yayoi Kusama, Carmen Herrera, Manal AlDowayan, Etel Adnan, and Ibrahim El Salahi.
Blazwick, the former director of the Whitechapel Gallery in London and now an employee of the governing Saudi kingdom, said in an interview with the Art Newspaper that she also hopes to host a show of works at the new AlUla venue which is drawn from the Centre Pompidou’s collection and selected by Saudi artists.
She added, “We are negotiating an agreement that the Pompidou can borrow from our collection and that we can borrow from theirs.” She said, “It’s all about reciprocity. We want our collection to be active in lending works, especially for artists planning survey shows; our ethos is artist-led”.
The Centre Pompidou closed from 2025 to 2030 for a major refurbishment, will be one of the numerous partners involved in the latest modern art museum project of the Arabian kingdom.
The Pompidou arrangements also offer training opportunities for Saudi curators.
Balzwick added, ” We hope that the Pompidou will mentor colleagues from Saudi in either Paris or at one of their many satellites.”
Moreover, the Pompidou partnership is the latest France- driven arts initiative to be launched in Saudi Arabia.
The initial agreement between the gallery and the RCU was finalized on 12th March. It also recollects how the French government is embedded within the country; it even has an agency called Afalula, which is specially assigned to developing ties with AlUla. Hence, the agency results from an intergovernmental agreement signed by France and Saudi Arabia in 2018.
Human rights concern:
Moreover, Afalula has peacefully launched a range of artist-led programs in AlUla. The Afalula initiative underprints the drive by the Saudi government to rebrand the traditional state with a human rights record. However, between 2015 and 2022, an average of 129 executions were carried out each year in the kingdom.
Besides, the Saudi state is heavily and directly involved in promoting and expanding each creative field; hence, finding independently run spaces between the state and the artists is becoming challenging.
Rebecca Proctor, the journalist, says that ” those working in government cultural sectors certify that they aim to encourage the growth of the private creative sector.”