Environments and Ecologies: Ravi Agarwal, Dr. Ahmed Ali Alghamdi, syn architects, Angela Vettese

The ongoing climate crisis magnifies shared concerns about access to water, food, and shelter, as this severely impacts the habitats of humans and other life forms. Some of its causes are rooted in extractivism, colonialism, and the pursuit of endless progress and growth. Witnessing the loss of the way we used to live, traditional knowledge and the riches of the planet’s biological variety, artists demonstrate an acute understanding of complex interrelations, the risk posed to habitats, ecosystems, and communities, and the rate of their destruction. After Rain addresses the cultural and architectural heritage of natural environments, while pointing to patterns of displacement, forced migration, and the extent of pollution. The invited panelists will speak about how artists incorporate such concerns in their practices.


Ravi Agarwal

Ravi Agarwal is a photographer, artist, writer, curator and environmental activist. He is one of the conveners of Bergen Assembly’s fifth edition in 2025. Agarwal explores issues of urban space, ecology, and capital in interrelated ways, working with photographs, video, performance, on-site installations, and public art. Agarwal co-curated a twin city public art project, Yamuna-Elbe Public.Art.Outreach, in Hamburg and New Delhi (2011). He writes extensively on ecological issues and is also founder of the leading Indian environmental NGO Toxics Link. He is an engineer by training.

syn architects

syn architects is dedicated to ecologically sensitive architectural design that upholds the material values of innovation, sustainability, and inclusivity. Founded by Saudi Arabian architects Sara Alissa and Nojoud Alsudairi, the practice is grounded in an aesthetic language informed by an awareness of the natural environment and its materials. The firm’s founders lead the research-based Um Slaim Collective, which uses critical investigations of the displacement of the vernacular Najdi architecture of Riyadh to document the disruption of urban ecology. As part of the Biennale Encounters program, during the opening week of the Biennale, syn architects hosted walking tours in Diriyah and in the neighborhood where their studio Um Slaim is located. 

Dr. Ahmed Ali Alghamdi

Dr. Ahmed Ali Alghamdi is Professor of Botany at the Department of Biology, College of Science, University of Hail in KSA. He is currently working as a consultant at the National Center for Vegetation Cover Development and Combating Desertification. He has worked as a consultant at the Deputy of Environment - Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture and as a supervisor of the Chair of Sheikh Ali Al-Jumai'ah for sustainable development in agricultural societies. Dr. Ahmed Ali Alghamdi collaborated with Biennale artists Lucy and Jorge Orta for their research in endemic plants as part of their commissioned work 70 x 7 The Meal, Act XLVI (2024).

Angela Vettese 

Angela Vettese is an art critic and scholar. She was the President of the Bevilacqua La Masa Foundation in Venice and the Director of the graduate program in visual arts, Faculty of Arts and Design, IUAV University in Venice. She has taught at numerous fine arts courses at the academies of Milano, Bergamo, Venezia and Bocconi University, Milan and has directed multiple Italian art institutions, as well as the art fair Artefiera in Bologna. Since 1986, she has written for the financial newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore’s cultural magazine La Domenica. She was Mayor of the Tourism and Cultural Cabinet for the city of Venice (2013–14) and Chair of the International Jury of the 53th Venice Biennale (2009).