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Misk Art Institute welcomed collaborators, art industry leaders, friends and media to MoMA where the team introduced the vision and outlined the 2018 program. 

IMG_4637-1.jpg#asset:1408Left to right: Misk Art Institute's Stephen Stapleton and Ahmed Mater with MoMA's Glenn Lowry and Jay Levenson

Director Ahmed Mater set out the context and ambitions for the institute. Emerging from a moment of unprecedented social and cultural transformation, Misk Art Institute reimagines what an art organization in the 21st century can be. 

An institute dedicated to the production of art today is new to the kingdom. By being in a position to establish infrastructural setups anew, we have the opportunity to dream again about what an institute could mean – both locally and globally. When we talk about Misk Art Institute – we are proposing and dreaming of an open platform, led by artists, from the ground up. This approach, instructed by the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud – comes from a place of passion and dedication.

Framing the institute in the context of Saudi's existing cultural community, he outlined a commitment to the grassroots energy of Saudi Arabia, placing artists at the center of the organization, supporting their vision with top-down support. 

Through his own career and Saudi's history of artistic development, Ahmed highlighted the existing community, citing the importance of Al-Miftaha Arts Village as well as previous exhibitions supporting and promoting Arab art – in the kingdom and abroad. 

Al-Meftaha_38880008.JPG#asset:1404Ahmed Mater with Stephen Stapleton at Al-Miftaha in Abha, where they first met by chance in 2003

The team then gave life to this vision, outlining programs, initiatives, and activities that will achieve these objectives. 

Sale-darmi.jpg#asset:1405The National Pavilion of Saudi Arabia in the Venetian Arsenal will be a permanent home for the kingdom's creativity

Nojoud Alsudairi introduced plans for the inaugural Saudi National Pavilion at the International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. A permanent home in Venice, the Pavilion will present the kingdom’s most innovative cultural producers, alternating six-month installations of art and architecture each year. As commissioner, Misk Art Institute will create space for Saudi's artists to join the conversation at one of the most important creative gatherings in the world. 

Valeria Mariani, International Projects Manager, looked to the Create & Inspire program as an example of the Institute's educational focus. As with other initiatives, the program will encourage professional development in the creative industries, with opportunities abroad supporting entrepreneurship and development at home. 

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"When we talk about Misk Art Institute – we are proposing and dreaming of an open platform, led by artists, from the ground up. The institute will comprise both spaces in Saudi Arabia and a series of projects regionally and internationally. These are foundations from which channels can be forged collaboratively with a new generation of artists, designers, and thinkers – following processes and directions as novel as their creative output."

Ahmed Mater – Director, Misk Art Institute

Finally, the importance of international partnerships was underscored by Glenn Lowry, director of MoMA who announced Modern Art in the Arab World: Primary Documents, a historic publication documenting Arab modernism. 

“It is a pleasure for us to welcome Misk Art Institute as it inaugurates an ambitious roster of international programs. This exciting new venture holds out the promise of a deepened and enriched artistic and scholarly exchange across traditions and cultures, in which MoMA is proud to play a role. We especially welcome the leadership of Ahmed Mater, himself an internationally recognized artist, as the Director of this important initiative.” 

The partnership demonstrates two central aims for Misk Art Institute. The first is the research and documentation of the region's modern and contemporary cultural heritage, using exhibitions, publications and films to create a resource for tomorrow. Also integral to efforts is the development of strong partnerships with international cultural organizations, such as MoMA. In the first year, this will also be seen in a major collaboration with Art Dubai Modern

The first year's program embodies the Institute's objectives: encouraging artistic production in Saudi Arabia, nurturing the appreciation of Saudi and Arab art and enabling international cultural diplomacy and exchange.

Major international activities during 2018 include: 

Read about the regional program launch

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