RELEASE: Cities of Salt @ UMOCA




Kristian Anderson

20 S West Temple
Salt Lake City, UT 84101 


Ahmed Mater, Antenna, 2010

UMOCA Embarks on Major International Partnership

Salt Lake City, UT - Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (UMOCA) begins major international partnership to curate an exhibition of contemporary Saudi Arabian art. 

UMOCA is excited to announce that it is partnering with the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture and CULTURUNNERS to curate an exhibition of contemporary art from Saudi Arabia, opening in August of 2017. While the artworks will be curated by UMOCA, this exhibition and program are part of a ten-city Saudi artist's tour of the United States. 

As part of this unprecedented cultural exchange, this February UMOCA will be taking a delegation of cultural ambassadors from Utah to Saudi Arabia to attend local Saudi arts festivals, visit the studios of emerging Saudi artists, and meet with partners at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture. 
With the working title, Cities of Salt, this exhibition will present works from artists who are engaged in looking at struggle and transformations of Saudi society, and delving into complex issues that link Utah and Saudi Arabia, such as oil, pilgrimage, and tension surrounding commercial development around cultural heritage sites. Cities of Salt, to be exhibited in the Main and Codec Galleries of UMOCA, located in the center of downtown Salt Lake City, and adjacent to Utah's most recognizable religious site. That site is also a place of pilgrimage, and the State is currently engaging in issues around oil, land preservation, and commercial development.
"This type of cultural exchange is more important than ever if we are going to push back against a rising tide of xenophobia and islamophobia. Saudi Arabia is not a homogenous culture. Like everywhere, there are artists who are working on the margins and calling attention to society's challenges and tensions of where ideology, government, and commerce meet. The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture and CULTURUNNERS have given us a tremendous boost to seeing this dialogue realized, and I am excited to find further partners and stakeholders so that the museum can maximize the impact and potential of this unique opportunity." - Kristian Anderson, director of UMOCA.
From sacred lands to the way society condemns or accepts religious practices, each unique culture connects to one another in a variety of ways. Contemporary art has always been at the heart of these very human connections, bringing to the forefront the most pressing issues of our national and global cultures.
Established artists from across Saudi Arabia will be joined by younger artists whose works connect with the Cities of Salt narrative, as well as using the Codec space to highlight cutting-edge video work by artists, comedians, and YouTube collectives such as Telfaz 11. 
Additionally, UMOCA will be hosting a Saudi-based artist as the museum's first international artist in residence. During their time in residence, the artist is asked to lead a workshop based on their practice for the general public, and, during the final week of their residency, will give a public talk. This type of direct cross-cultural dialogue is crucial to the project's success.  
This exhibition is part of a chain of cross-cultural dialogue and Saudi artists' tour of the United States, which has already traveled to the Station Museum in Houston, TX, Gonzo Gallery in Aspen, CO, Minnesota Street Projects in San Francisco, CA, and Bates College Museum of Art in Lewiston, ME. Further stops on the tour include Detroit, MI, New York, NY, and Washington D.C.
About the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art
The Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (UMOCA) has advanced and elevated the community of contemporary arts and culture since it was established in 1931. UMOCA is a fearless voice for innovation, experimentation and dialogue surrounding the topics of our time. Located in the heart of Salt Lake City, UMOCA invites curiosity and promotes understanding of the challenging concepts that art and its reflective social commentary can present. UMOCA is a force forsocial transformation that unites all points of view, backgrounds, experience, and ages through pertinent art exhibitions and educational programming. UMOCA evokes change, challenges ideologies, celebrates triumph, and introduces an array of contemporary voices with in the Museum and throughout the community.
UMOCA is a five-time recipient of funding from the Andy Warhol Foundation and a 2015 and 2016 recipient of the Art Works Grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts.
UMOCA is a 501c3 institution that is supported by public foundation, and corporate gifts. Your donation in any amount is greatly appreciated, and admission is a $5 suggested donation.

About the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture
The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, simply known as ithra, is a one-of-a-kind institution that brings together multiple offerings under one roof. From arts and culture to science and innovation, this bold initiative by Saudi Aramco promises a continuous journey of enrichment designed to energize the next knowledge economy of Saudi Arabia.
We aim to make a positive and tangible impact on the cultural scene by focusing on building local talents in the knowledge and creative industries. Blending iconic architectural design with advanced technology, and unique learning methods with enriching programs, ithra is an infinitely inspiring platform for explorers, learners, creators, and leaders - a thriving hub of knowledge, creativity and cross-cultural engagement. As the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia strives to achieve its ambitious national development goals to transition to a knowledge-based economy, ithra acts as a bridge connecting cultures and cultivating a creative and innovative community.
At ithra, we believe in the power of people and ideas to unlock new possibilities: the future is what we make of it. Click here for more information.

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