DAYDREAM, 2021

The sun and the moon. These celestial bodies, the two faces of the cycle of light, are the inspiration for the artworks created by Robert Wilson for Noor Riyadh 2021. In DAYDREAM, the moon, cosmic cauldron of light, irradiates and spreads its peaceful incandescence onto civilization, as the echo of a guardian spirit. Emerging from darkness, it fills the distance between infinity and the world, thus uniting space and time – a bridge for humanity. DAYDREAM is a radiant sculpture illuminated to create a visual sequence of light. The artwork, even when seen from a distance, appears as a pulsating element, inviting the audience to walk to it, as if its shape, colors and materials were acting as a catalyst, as a magnetic entity.

King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD)

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Hidden Diamond-Saffron, 2019

In Hidden Diamond — Saffron (2019),  Anila Quayyum Agha designed each side of the suspended cube the same, repeating a symmetrical pattern by combining and adapting different decorative elements from the Alhambra. Suspended and lit from within, the cube casts lace-like, floor-to-ceiling shadows that allude to the richly ornamented public spaces of her youth. These geometric shapes and lines become shadows covering the walls, floor, ceiling, and even visitors. No clear boundary or separation exists. Our moving bodies change the nature of the pattern as one interacts freely, weaving in and out and through its dense silhouette. Agha pushes the dichotomies of public and private, light and shadow, and static and dynamic in her work by relying on the symmetry of geometric design and the interpretation of the cast shadows to transform our surrounding environment completely.

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Casino AlRiyadh, 2021

In Casino AlRiyadh (2021) from his Written By The City series, AlOthman imitates the language of the city by identifying light panels, signs, and billboards found on modern and old urban buildings. In the 1960s and 1970s, these signs mapped the city by becoming the iconic symbols of important locations in different areas. AlOthman creates new neon signs drawn from the words used in older signs to produce a unique linguistic anatomy for Riyadh and revive the memory of its places. In this piece, AlOthman revisits the iconic ‘Casino AlRiyadh”; a well known social gathering and dinner spot in the city of Riyadh back in the 1960’s. It was located in AlWatan Park and replaced by the Riyadh Water Tower in 1969. Through choice and placement, these new phrases reflect the effect of the original social and spatial place from which they are drawn, recalling their collective culture and memory. Thus, the artist reintroduces the city to the viewer in a neon-based contemporary visual composition; reconstructing the words found in these signs, Riyadh the city becomes the poet.

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            [post_content] => Abdullah AlOthman (b. 1985) is an artist and a published contemporary poet born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. AlOthman’s artwork starts with a question concerning life, its cycles and its effect on his and others’ existence; “art is life” - art means living better. 
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Render (Tree), 2016

If one were to take a photo of a television at the exact moment of turning it on—a typical and instantaneous act—the television’s static and cathode rays would be frozen at that moment, rendering an unrecognizable image. Render (Tree) (2016)  likewise freezes the moment an artificial plant appears in a hologram simulation, projecting a time well into the future. Yet, the placement of the tree rendering in our physical space alludes to the idea that we live in a simulation. This high-tech interpretation of our daily life frozen in time suggests a world to which we may not be able to return.

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Butterfly, 2007

French artist Daniel Firman’s sculptural works explore movement and gesture centered around one’s sense of doing and taking action. Firman’s practice often incorporates dance intimated here in his splayed neon arc, Butterfly (2007), that gracefully unfolds against a wall. The work’s title alludes to a majestic butterfly whose biodiversity is under threat due to our planet’s extreme climatic changes. The chromatic variety of the neon lights signifies the diverse beauty of the Lepidoptera species. In literature and art, butterflies are often portrayed as the essence of nature and are associated with freedom, beauty, and peace. Firman’s decision to root the work to the ground rather than in flight further hints at our own loss should man’s insistence on negative technologies push the butterfly into extinction. Similarly, the fact that the artwork is dependent on technology to experience it acknowledges that the butterfly is a vital element within nature’s food chain that must be saved.

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Trees Speaking With Each Other, 2019

Trees Speaking With Each Other (2019), a large wooden planter box with artificial grow lights, cultivates heirloom tomatoes once widely grown in the artist’s hometown, AlQatif, in Saudi Arabia’s eastern region, whose availability is decreasing due to urbanization. In a gesture of nostalgia and authenticity, the artist searched for specific tomato farms to reproduce the exact species known from her youth for their distinct traits of color (ranging from purple to yellow), size, and taste. These tomatoes also played a role in the artist’s hometown social customs as gifts amongst families once in season. As farmers have been forced to relocate their farms searching for better soil, they renewed cultivating these special tomatoes. Abu Abdallah has used the seeds obtained from these new farms in an artwork that serves not only as an ecological experiment but also an aesthetic statement on preservation.

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            [post_content] => Sarah Abu Abdallah’s (b.1990) work challenges the impossible by piecing together improbable elements and connections as a gesture of hope and outlet for new narratives through video, installation, poetry, images and conversations. 
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The Sun, Again, 2017

The Sun, Again (2017), emphasizes the importance of light in our daily lives. Through moving pictures and successive sounds, the artist speaks to an ecological imbalance, in its most severe form, suggesting that a dark future can be avoided if one harnesses their human instincts. He advocates for reconnecting with nature, donning one’s youthful spirit and curiosity toward land, water, and nature’s other elements that obliges, above all, man being children of Mother Earth. His poetic message suggests that with this unconditional love, the sun will return again. 

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Recurrent Anaximander, 2020

Recurrent Anaximander (2020) is named after Anaximander of Miletus (610-545 BC), the pre-Socratic philosopher who advanced that the stars and planets were not located within a celestial vault. Instead, Anaximander postulated that they appear in a continuous space surrounding the Earth, furthering our understanding of the mechanism of eclipses that occur between the stars and planets. Building on Anaximander’s theory, Lozano-Hemmer’s artwork is a generative animation running on a custom-made 400,000-pixel circular display that shows small planets in orbit creating rare eclipses. Each day it is on exhibit, the piece connects to a server housed at NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), downloading the sun’s most recent images. These images are randomly integrated with mathematical generative algorithms such as reaction-diffusion and equations such as Navier-Stokes (that describe the physics of nature) and Voronoi (partitions of a plane in a region close to a given set of objects). The algorithms produce an infinite rotation of images so that the viewer never sees the same image twice. 

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Proportion of Light, 2021

Proportion of Light (2021) highlights the origin and function of the traditional Arabic craft, AlMangour. This complex architectural element made of a wooden interlocking lattice system creates a patterned surface with a net-like veil in the interstice spaces. Deeply engaged in living traditions, Angawi expresses the craft’s intricacy as the flow of air and light occupy the room itself. As he continuously pursues equilibrium in his design and application to balance the human state of mind, the artist deconstructs AlMangour. The result showcases how each composition within the lattice system’s formation allows a certain degree of light to pass through space depending on the negative space it creates. Each area, therefore, stems from the multilayered geometric shapes it is made of. Proportion of Light (2021) unveils the process of “making of the work,” allowing us to experience its beauty, appreciate its intricacy, and the details that make the final artwork.

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Somewhere Beautiful, 2021

In Somewhere Beautiful (2021), the artist presents hyper-consumption in the digital world, blurring the lines between light, vision, reality, and fiction. The immersive installation is a compilation of multiple screens projecting scenes culled from a plethora of movies and documentaries that have shaped the artist’s life, that of his friends, the region, and beyond, all played at extremely high speeds. The visual experience is akin to encountering moving and flickering shades of light that distort reality while creating an intense, surreal world of visual noise, disturbance, and chaos. Upon entering, the viewer’s comprehension and processing skills are reduced due to the rapid speed and dense flow of knowledge. Thus, meanings are lost, and all that is left is the light. In effect, this work is a mind–eye game, a moment of self-questioning whether our beautiful place exists in our minds or our reality. 

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Capturing Light, 2005

Based in Riyadh, Malluh is witness to the growing changes in the region that, through her photogram series, sheds light on her spiritual connection to the city’s heritage. A photogram captures a photographic image without using a camera by exposing photosensitive paper directly to a light source. The arrangement of objects interrupting the passage of light determines the photogram’s composition. The everyday items portrayed in Capturing Light (2005) belong to Malluh personally and can be seen as emblematic and cultural symbols of Saudi Arabian civilization. They serve as a reminder of the joy found in priceless little things and become a statement for one’s youth that has been swept up in a tidal wave of consumer culture. She has always been inspired by her country, which she defines as a land of contrasting images and ideas.

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Once Was A Ruler, 2019

A spiritual and exploratory odyssey produced a series of works to which Once Was A Ruler (2019) belongs. Here the artist has created a composite of his own photographs of ancient sculptures that depict monarchs from the north Arabian kingdom of Lihyan, showcased in the Roads of Arabia exhibition (2010-2018) that highlighted the Arabian Peninsula’s ancient past and early civilization. The artist has layered these photographs with his own body X-rays, superimposing these photographic collages and assembling them into illuminated lightboxes, capturing the human spirit of these fourth and third century BC sculptures. By affirming their past existence as human beings who once ruled the Arabian Peninsula, the artist comments on the often-misperceived God-like worship status of these rulers. 

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Diwans of the Unknown, 2021

In Diwans of the Unknown (2021), Dana Awartani artist projects verses onto the surface of a large-scale accordion book made of intricately hand-embroidered silk textile panels. The words are drawn from overlooked and still limitedly documented poetry of female poets from across the Islamic world, including poems from the pre-Islamic to the twelfth century. “Diwan” in Islamic culture is a collection of poems by a single author that is frequently sung or set to music and intended to inspire. As they are rarely written by women, and therefore nearly erased from history, the artist brings attention to these lacunae through the intermittent projections on the textile. As the Diwans appear and disappear, they never leave a permanent mark. Awartani’s practice embraces methods of deconstruction, reinterpretation, and repetition of a sign system, revealing immutable patterns to demonstrate the structure of meaning. In this work, just as the beautiful embroidery reveals the codified geometrical sign systems on the textile, in the contemporary spirit of deconstruction and revelation, Awartani highlights and reveals the strength laying in the words of these powerful women of poetry.

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Antenna (Green), 2010

Ahmed Mater’s Antenna (Green) (2010) stands as a metaphor for youth’s yearning to expand its horizons. Articulated in neon, the device is a ubiquitous home appliance that transmits information, a TV aerial. Recalling his personal experience as a young explorer searching for contact with the outside world, Mater often reached out to communicate across surrounding borders. Living in the southern region of Saudi Arabia, if positioned correctly, the TV antenna could receive signals from neighboring countries, whether Yemen from the south or across the Red Sea towards Sudan. The spirit of creative exploration and curiosity has defined the artist’s path ever since. As you enter the room where the sculpture is placed, the green light reflecting off the work conquers the viewer’s surroundings, reinforcing the strength of knowledge transfer that is realized once borders are transcended.

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Nostalgia Takes Us to Sea but Desire Keeps Us from the Shore, 2010

Nostalgia Takes Us to Sea, but Desire Keeps Us from the Shore (2010), like most of Al Dowayan’s works, results from personal experiences belonging to her series, And We Had No Shared Dreams (2010). It depicts an imagined conversation between urban inhabitants and their cityscape, an unstable, symbiotic relationship in a constant state of uncertainty at its core. Through this work, AlDowayan highlights the distinct physicality that nostalgia imposes on the mind and its movement. She captures the backdrop image in a style she coined as “drive-by-shootings,” collecting images shot from a moving car between two different locations on the same bridge connecting Saudi Arabia to Bahrain. A poetic verse by prolific Saudi poet and writer, Dr. Ghazi Al Gosaibi overlays the photograph, rendered in neon. The poet’s words represent the conversation between the location and its residents while addressing the state of being “in-between.” The work reflects the movement between two spaces, both physically and emotionally, and the barriers faced within both.

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            [post_date] => 2021-01-24 19:02:17
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            [post_content] => Manal AlDowayan (b. 1973) is a Saudi artist. Long invested in interrogating the gender-biased customs that impact the condition of women in Saudi Arabia, AlDowayan is a sensitive yet critical witness to the cultural metamorphosis engulfing the Kingdom. 
            [post_title] => Manal AlDowayan
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            [post_name] => manal-aldowayan
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            [post_modified] => 2021-03-25 09:55:45
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