Desertx 2020 AlUlaZahrah AlGhamdi, Glimpses of the Past, installation view at Desert X AlUla, photo by Lance Gerber, courtesy the artist, RCU and Desert X Zahrah AlGhamdi Glimpses of the Past AlGhamdi’s installation consists of approximately 6000 tin date containers of different sizes, laid out across 80 meters against the terrain of AlUla. The artwork is an ode to AlUla’s agricultural wealth; its plentiful palm tree groves that have fueled the area’s trade for generations and the springs of water that have sustained them. The artist has repurposed the containers, traditionally used for the storage and transport of dates, to create what resembles a sparkling, flowing river with multiple tributaries. Filled with five different shades of sand and mirrors, the work becomes a metaphorical representation of AlUla’s significance in being a crossroads of civilizations in history and a cultural hub today attracting visitors from around the world. The experience of the artwork transforms it to the point that it ceases to be about date farming at all and appears as an organic part of the landscape. It awakens a deep sense of nostalgia as the mountains and sky reflect off the shiny surfaces of the containers and mirrors within.
By Zahrah Alghamdi