Princess Alia Al-Senussi is an active member of the contemporary art world, with a special focus on young patronage and arts and culture in the Middle East, holding a variety of non-profit board and committee positions which promote young patronage of the arts in London and collecting in the Middle East. Her philanthropic roles include Chair of the Tate Young Patrons (and representative to the Tate Patrons board) and a founding member of the Tate’s Acquisitions Committee for the Middle East and North Africa, the Board of Patrons of Art Dubai (serving an integral role in the founding of the fair itself), the Board of 1:54 The African Art Fair, and the Middle East Circle of the Guggenheim, the Council of Institute of Contemporary Arts London, Strategic Advisory Panel of Delfina Foundation and the Advisory Board of Ikon Gallery. Alia works professionally as the Representative to the UK and Middle East for Art Basel. She is also currently studying towards her PhD in Politics with Professor Charles Tripp at SOAS (London) examining the nexus of institutions of power, national identity and art & culture, featuring a case study of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
If there was one piece of art you could feature in, which would it be and why?
My most emotional moments with culture have happened in immersive moments of art, architecture and nature. Marfa, Roden Crater, Naoshima and Inhotim have drawn me in and made me appreciate the work of artist, patron and community—all coming together in an ecosystem that creates a very unique kind of beauty. My dream is that I am able to conjure the memories of moments where I was able to feature in these communities and cultural landscapes when I travel to all those that I have yet to see, MONA being top of my list! I want to be a part of these particular—and peculiar—works of art so that they continue to be activated by living beings and the environment in which they are created.
What are your favourite emerging cultural cities and / or organisations in the world and why?
LA and Beirut are hardly emerging, but they are seen as apart from the more well-known centers of contemporary art. I love their dynamism, the mix of tradition and innovation, the deep loyalty that Angelenos and Beirutis feel to their cities, and the welcoming spirit that is contagious to all that visit.
We live in strange times (Trump, Brexit, etc); how does the role of museums change our tomorrow?
I have often thought what it would have meant to the radical changes of 2016 if the Switch House had opened one year earlier? Would it have been able to overcome the rage against the other that roared against us all with Brexit? The collections in the Switch House create a dialogue amongst world communities rather than isolating us in the old methods of geographical boundaries, thereby educating us on what it means to be welcoming of our neighbors and what it means to be a citizen of the world.
Tate redefines what it is to be British, or rather enlarges the traditional definitions, and centers us all in bigger notions of humanity. Tate museums around the country speak to their local communities, but also help teach us all about the importance of re-examination of identity—who we are and what that means in a metropolis like London but also a coastal town such as St Ives and where that all situates itself in a global context. Museums have become global and international but yet they need to keep their local character and appeal to local audiences. A museum is open to all, a place of exchange and conversation of art and discussion—the Tate is all of that to the local and to the global.
Who do you think are the cultural innovators of tomorrow and why?
Artist activists like the noble Theaster Gates. These individuals bring together communities and help all of us fight against the worst elements of discrimination in society.
What are you up to at the moment and where can we find it? (Please include a link(s) if possible).