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Pope Francis commends Saudi participational Bienalsur


9th Jul 2019 Art & Theatre

Pope Francis commends Saudi participational Bienalsur

Aníbal Jozami, the General Director of Bienalsur, briefed Pope Francis on Saudi’s participation in Bienalsur during a Papal audience at the Vatican in March this year.

Three Saudi artists, from the Kingdom’s increasingly vibrant cultural scene, are exhibiting their work at Bienalsur, the biennale of South America. 

The Saudi exhibition is being hosted at the Pavilion of Fine Arts at the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina (UCA), of which Pope Francis was Grand Chancellor before his elevation to the Papacy.

In January Aníbal Jozami sent the Pope a catalogue for Bienalsur and received a reply inviting him to Rome to meet the Vatican’s Culture Minister, Cardinal Ravasi. In March Jozami  travelled to the Vatican and held meetings with Cardinal Ravasi and had an audience with the Pope.

“I explained that we will do the exhibition in Buenos Aires at the Catholic University with artists from Saudi Arabia.  We were talking about the importance of dialogue between Islam and Christianity.” explained Aníbal Jozami.

Our participation in this edition of Bienalsur is helping build bridges of understanding between cultures.  The Pope is quite right, dialogue is so important and I am delighted that our talented Saudi artists can be part of creating that dialogue”  said Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al-Saud, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Culture.  


Bienalsur, the world’s first traveling contemporary art biennale, runs from June until November. The biennale begins in South America and will travel through five continents, taking in more than 100 venues across 42 cities around the world, ending at Tokyo’s University of Arts. Bienalsur is also scheduled to visit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the first time in October 2019.

Fatima al Banawi.jpg

Jeddah-based Harvard-educated artist and actor Fatima al Banawi is exhibiting, A Blink of an Eye. This artwork is a 7-minute long video, in which al Banawi also stars, reenacting confessional accounts from the everyday lives of five strangers.


Ayman Zedani.jpg

Ayman Zedani presents his multi-layered installation “Sailing Stones.” This work was created by sliding a collection of 15 agate stones into wet clay, producing a unique trail impression for each stone. At the exhibition, the resulting prints will be displayed on large paper rolls highlighting the tangibility of the process in the final display.

Faisal Samra’s (1).jpg

Faisal Samra’s installation invites Bienalsur visitors to form “A Grip of Hope”with sun-dried clay. These pieces are then collated and form a wall, which will grow in size as the piece travels around the world. Visitors will also be asked to sign a ‘petition of commitment’ to reduce the damage caused by over consumption in society.

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