Where the Dwellers Lay is a sculpture that draws inspiration from the vernacular architecture of AlUla. Inspired by the archaeological site of Hegra, Awartani’s artwork takes the form of a concave geometric sculpture that references the Nabataean tombs and their decorated facades. The 10-fold design of the structure is rooted in both the stairwell pattern that is commonly found carved on the exterior of the tombs, as well as in the artist’s expertise in Islamic geometry, making it an artwork that fuses the different cultural civilizations that have inhabited Saudi Arabia. The cave-like structure is made with locally sourced stone, blending into the environment as a space of contemplation, reflection, and continuity.
Ranging from painting and sculpture to performance and multimedia installation, Dana Awartani (b. 1987, Saudi Arabia, based in Jeddah) makes work imbued with the forms, techniques, concepts, and spatial constructs that define Arab culture with contemporary awareness. She trained at Prince’s School of Traditional Arts in London, where she earned a master’s degree. Her work often revolves around the highly codified and symbolically laden language of geometry. The timeless relevance of forms and the wisdom embedded in traditional crafts are harnessed to tackle issues of gender, healing, cultural destruction, and sustainability in a constant effort to straddle continuity and innovation, aesthetic experimentation, and social relevance. Her solo exhibition venues include Maraya Art Centre, Sharjah (2018); the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (2017); and Athr Gallery, Jeddah (2015). Her work is in the collections of the Sheikh Zayed National Museum, Jameel Arts Centre, ThyssenBornemisza Art Contemporary, the British Museum, the Hirshhorn Museum, and the Guggenheim Museum, among others.
Where the Dwellers Lay
AlUla, Saudi Arabia
Desert X AlUla 2022