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Open Call: Archaeology & Photography

Archaeology & Photography
© S. Kriemann


To celebrate the 20th anniversary 2024 of the German Archaeological Institute's (DAI) involvement in the excavations in Saudi Arabia, the German Cultural Institute (Goethe-Institut) and the German Archaeological Institute are jointly issuing an open call for artists photographers based in Saudi Arabia.

The open call

The Archaeology & Photography project approaches the desert from an artistic perspective: it explores the desert as archive by artistic means: lifting segments of the past, layer by layer, in order to "record" and “trace” the processes caused by humans. The focus lies equally on the desert landscapes and therein the evidence of settlements through the centuries, as much as the documentation of the different "uses" of this special and fragile eco-system.

Without judging what is valuable and what seems to worthless, the magnificent and the seemingly banal carry proof of the legacies of man. In other words, finding and photographically telling the stories that these things communicate about our present time.

The desert is both a mysterious reality and a metaphor for the contradictions in human life. A reflection on what nature and culture mean in the anthropocene shall emerge from the photographs.

Two artists (one based in Saudi Arabia and one based in Germany) will travel to the archaeological excavations in Tayma and Al Ula in autumn 2023 for their photographic exploration.

The resulting photographs will be shown in a joint exhibition in Saudi Arabia and Germany in 2024.

To apply

➢ We invite photographers based in Saudi Arabia to submit their portfolio, bio, and a brief statement on their relationship with the desert
➢ The application must include a CV, an artist's statement and a project description of up to one page that explains the artistic approach
➢ The concept must be related to the overarching theme of desert and archaeology
➢ Willingness to collaborate with the German photographer
➢ Willingness to cooperate in the preparation of the exhibitions planned for 2024

We look forward to receiving your application at


➢ The selection of the Saudi participant will be made by a jury of artists/photographers
➢ Applicants will be assessed on the quality of their portfolio and the planned artistic approach to the theme of archaeology and desert
➢ Finalists be expected to be available for an interview about their practice


➢ Deadline open call: 10.10.2023
➢ Selection process: 11.10. - 15.10.2023
➢ 2 weeks between October and December: Photographic Journey to Al Ula and Tayma
➢ January/February: Production of the exhibits
➢ March: Printing/Framing
➢ Spring: Opening Exhibition Saudi Arabia


The winner of the open call receives
➢ Honorarium in the amount of 4500.--€
➢ Cover of costs for travel and accommodation in Tayma and Al Ula

Daniah al Saleh

Daniah al Saleh . The jury selected the Saudi artist and photographer Daniah al Saleh, who will travel to the archaeological excavations in Tayma and Al Ula in October for their photographic exploration. The resulting photographs will be shown in an exhibition in Saudi Arabia and Germany in 2024.

Daniah al Saleh is a visual artist that engaged with the intersections of memory, cultural conditioning, and societal norms. Using a blend of computational techniques and traditional materials, she probes everyday behavioral patterns and paradigms to reveal hidden perspectives and new interpretive frameworks. Her work is a dual narrative: aesthetically appealing while also offering a nuanced commentary on human fragility, insecurity, and vulnerability.

Her art has been showcased in solo exhibitions such as 'Keep Smiling' at Athr Gallery, group exhibitions like 'From Spark to Spirit' at Noor Riyadh, and "Tales of Nostalgia" at Misk Institute. She is a recipient of the Ithra Art Prize in 2019 and has been featured in exhibitions including the 1st edition of Ad Diriyah Biennale and BIENALSUR.

Responsible for the organisation

German Archaeological Institute (DAI)

The German Archaeological Institute (DAI, is a federal institution in the portfolio of the Federal Foreign Office and conducts scientific research in the field of archaeology and ancient studies worldwide. The DAI has been active with research projects in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for 20 years in collaboration with the Heritage Commission at the site of Tayma and, more recently, with the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) at Qurh / al-Mabiyat and Tell Saq.

Goethe-Institut Saudi Arabia (German Cultural Institute)

The Goethe-Institut ( is the globally active cultural institute of the Federal Republic of Germany. We promote knowledge of the German language abroad and foster international cultural cooperation. We connect people in a vibrant cultural and educational network. Through our programmes, we promote intercultural dialogue and cultural participation and strengthen the development of cultural structures.