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Shezad Dawood

Coral Alchemy I (Dipsastrea Speciosa) & Coral Alchemy II (Porites Columnaris)


With Coral Alchemy I (Dipsastrea Speciosa) and Coral Alchemy II (Porites Columnaris) Dawood brings the ocean to the AlUla desert floor, exploring the ancient geo-biological relationship between the two landscapes. In dialogue with geologist Chris Collins, Dawood learned that this AlUla canyon would have, ten million years ago, been the delta for what became the Red Sea.

The coral form works—inspired by two species endemic to the region, as identified through conversations with marine scientists Dr. Zahra Alsaffar (NEOM), Dr. Francesca Benzoni (KAUST), and Dr. Michael Berumen (KAUST)—change color over the course of the day, their surfaces transforming in tandem with the desert’s shifting temperatures. Alluding to the interconnectedness of the earth’s ecosystems, this subtle metamorphosis mirrors the coral bleaching that is one of the ocean’s starkest indicators of climate change, thereby enacting an alchemy that plays out the enmeshed relations between the human and the nonhuman.

ShezadDawood (b. 1974, United Kingdom, based in London) works across the disciplines of sculpture, textiles, film, and digital media to address the key themes of architecture and ecology and how they connect recent history to deep time; the works reveal an archaeology of the present and where we might go from here. His works often grapple with the conversations that environments, both real and virtual, generate around some of the pressing issues of our shared contemporary moment. Shezad Dawood’s recent solo exhibitions include Kai Art Centre, Tallinn (2020); NewArt Exchange, Nottingham (2020); The Bluecoat, Liverpool (2019); the Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto (2019); Frieze LIVE, London (2019); and Kunstverein, Munich (2019). His works are in collections at the Guggenheim, New York; the Tate, United Kingdom; LACMA, Los Angeles; the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Sharjah Art Foundation; the British Museum, London; the Kiron Nadar Museum of Art, Delhi; the Rubin Museum of Art, New York; Mathaf, Doha; and the Arts Council Collection, London.

Coral Alchemy I (Dipsastrea Speciosa)
Coral Alchemy II (Porites Columnaris)
26.651056, 37.992889
AlUla, Saudi Arabia
Desert X AlUla 2022