Los Angeles Times

Desert X art exhibition heads to Saudi Arabia — and into contentious territory

LOS ANGELES - The government of Saudi Arabia, suffering from a battered image and seeking to open itself to tourism and expand cultural ties with Western countries, has found a willing partner in the Coachella Valley, Calif.-based contemporary art biennial Desert X, which announced Monday that it would collaborate on an exhibition in the kingdom in early 2020.

Desert X consisted of large-scale site-specific works staged across the Coachella Valley in 2017 and again in 2019. The new exhibition, Desert X AlUla, will be held in northwestern Saudi Arabia and funded by the government's Royal Commission for AlUla.

Although the Saudi exhibition signals growing international interest in Desert X, three of 14 members on the organization's board of directors resigned over the decision to work with a government responsible for human rights abuses and the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The three are artist Ed Ruscha, art historian and curator Yael Lipschutz and philanthropist

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