GENERA#ION: Contemporary Art from Saudi Arabia, presented San Francisco’s first exhibition of contemporary art from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This timely, cross-generational survey of 15 artists working at the center of the Islamic world, opened at Minnesota Street Project in the heart of the Dogpatch district in summer 2016.
GENERA#ION marked the third stop on a multi-city Saudi artist’s tour of the United States, supported by King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture. The tour, which launched earlier this summer at the Station Museum in Houston, Texas before traveling to Aspen-Colorado, aims to generate people-to-people dialogue and better understanding between nations.
As the world’s media reports a resurgent tide of religious intolerance and conflict, a tight- knit group of Saudi artists, both men and women, have acted upon a dream to discover the people and the diversity of America — from the East to West coast — trekking across the US interstate highway system and major cities on a mission to share not only their innate passion to create but also to learn from the local public’s reactions to their artworks.
San Francisco has always welcomed marginalized groups and outsider voices. Since the 50s, the Bay area has attracted influential artists, poets, thinkers and been the incubator for some of the great generational movements of their time. More recently, technological innovation and a cultural renaissance in the heart of downtown have once again put the ‘City of Rebels’ on the world stage. It now seems fitting that San Francisco welcomes these outsider artists from Saudi Arabia, very much the pioneers of their generation, willing to address cultural norms and taboos and their societal impact. In traveling to the U.S. at this time, they are defying mainstream expectations, reaching out directly to bridge the divide across the most contested political and ideological border of our time. This exhibition represented a unique opportunity for the people of San Francisco to enter into a meaningful dialogue with these artists at this crucial time.
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