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A 17-Day Art Festival is Set to Illuminate Riyadh

Everything you need to know about Noor Riyadh

Last September, Saudi Arabia announced its plans to open a digital art museum in Jeddah. Unfortunately, the project will not see light until 2023. But don’t worry, you won’t have to wait until then to get your immersive art fix. 

This month, the Kingdom is hosting its first light art festival, Noor Riyadh. Creating a dialogue between the city’s tradition and modernity, the inaugural edition will see 63 international and regional artists flock to the Saudi capital from more than 20 countries. 

The festival is part of the Riyadh Art project led by HH Prince Badr bin Farhan Al-Saud, which aims to turn the Saudi capital into an open-air museum and boost the local creative scene—all in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

Tom & Lien Dekyvere
Rhizome, 2020
Fluorescent ropes and LED lights
Installation view: Light Art Knokke, 2018
Courtesy the artist and Light Art Collection
Photography by Valéry Bellengier 
Yayoi Kusama
Infinity Mirror Room – Brilliance of Souls, 2014
Mirror, wooden panel, LED, metal, acrylic panel and water 278 x 415 x 415 cm
Royal Commission for Al Ula
Photo Credit: ©Yayoi Kusama Inc.

With a theme of ‘Under One Sky’, large scale outdoor public installations will be dispersed around the city, specifically in the King Abdullah Financial District and the King Abdulaziz Historical Center.

Emerging Saudi artists—including Lulwah Al Homoud, Mohammad AlFaraj, Rashed AlShashai and Marwah Almugait to name just a few—will see their work showcased amongst a large selection of sculptures, projections, interactive shows, and immersive pieces.

Ayman Zedani
Earthseed, 2021
3-channel video Installation; dimensions variable
Courtesy the artist
Ahmed Mater
Mitochondria: Powerhouses, 2017
Tesla coil machine
Courtesy the artist and GALLERIA CONTINUA
Photography by Ela Bialkowska, OKNO studio

You can discover Saudi physician-turned-conceptual-artist Ahmed Mater’s project ‘Mitochondria: Powerhouses’, an installation with a Tesla coil and fulgurite sculptures placed in a circular sand bank. Also on display is Almugait’s ‘May We Meet Again’, a montage of abstract footage projected on a water screen. 

Other immersive pieces include Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s cosmic installation ‘Brilliance of Souls’ and Belgian artists Tom and Lien Dekyvere’s futuristic ‘Rhizome’ installation.

UxU Studio
Illusion Hole, 2020
Metal, LED Lights, wood. 200x200x40 cm
Courtesy the artists and Light Art Collection
Marwah Almugait
Still images from بيتنا في السماء May We Meet Again, 2021
Courtesy the artist

Alongside the citywide artworks, the festival will also host tours, talks, workshops—many of which are available online—and a retrospective of light art. Entitled ‘Light Upon Light: Light Art since the 1960s’, the exhibition will feature 30 artworks tracing 60 years of light art.

Noor Riyadh will run from March 18 to April 3.


Main image: Squidsoup Submergence, 2013-2021
Installation view at the Canary Wharf Winter Lights Festival 2019
Courtesy of the artists and Light Art Collection
Photography by Sean Pollock

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