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Noor Riyadh: world’s biggest annual festival of light and art is expected to surpass 2.5 million visitors, as accompanying exhibition continues to enthrall and educate

Second edition of Noor Riyadh leaves a lasting legacy on the Saudi Arabian capital city of Riyadh through light, art and community engagement, expecting to surpass 2.5m visitors by the time it turns the lights off

Festival concludes on November 19, with the accompanying exhibition ‘From Spark to Spirit’ continuing until February 4, 2023

Riyadh; Noor Riyadh, the world’s biggest annual citywide festival of light and art, is expected to have welcomed over 2.5 million visitors in the Saudi Arabian capital city, attracting local communities from families to artists, students, professionals and international audiences from across the globe.

With more than 2.5 million international, regional and local visitors having enjoyed the event to date, additional visitors are set to visit Noor Riyadh’s accompanying exhibition ‘From Spark to Spirit’ at JAX 03 (JAX District), which runs until February 4, 2023.

They can also continue participating in the festival’s program of over 500 special activities, which include tours, talks, workshops, family activities and music. Some of these are available online and via the app allowing the festival to be enjoyed by a wider audience outside of Riyadh and Saudi Arabia.

On November 3, 2022, 190 artworks and installations illuminated 40 citywide locations, showcasing immersive site-specific installations, monumental public artworks, ephemeral sculptures, art trails, virtual reality, building projections and drone shows transforming Riyadh into a dazzling night-time ‘gallery without walls’. Renowned names in light art were brought together with an expanding roster of emerging and established local artists – many for whom light was a new artistic medium – within Saudi Arabia.

This year, the festival included at least 90 new commissions from international artists such as Daniel Buren, Shohei Fujimoto, Douglas Gordon, Tadashi Kawamata, Alicja Kwade and Jean-Michel Othoniel. They were joined by Saudi artists such as Ahaad Alamoudi, Abdullah AlOthman, Daniah Al Saleh, Rashed AlShashai, Sarah Brahim, Bricklab, and Muhannad Shono.

Artists from 40 countries as far and wide as Madagascar, Uganda, Japan, Puerto Rico, Turkey, Poland, France, United Kingdom and United States, were selected to display significant works of light art under the theme ‘We Dream of New Horizons’. With the festival co-curated by Hervé Mikaeloff, Dorothy Di Stefano and Jumana Ghouth, the theme centered around a sense of hopefulness for the future, with connotations that are positive, optimistic and reflective of a confidence in renewal and transformation.

Speaking on the conclusion of the citywide installations, Riyadh Art Program Executive Director, Khaled Al-Hazani, said: “We are delighted that Noor Riyadh has created unique moments of joy across the city, nurtured artistic talent and delivered awe inspiring immersive experiences, providing visitors with an opportunity to appreciate world-class light artworks and rediscover the city of Riyadh in a new light. We look forward to bringing together a global community of visitors to Noor Riyadh’s accompanying exhibition and shedding light on the artists, curators and community engagement initiatives enriching Riyadh’s thriving art and culture landscape.”

Noor Riyadh Exhibition – ‘From Spark to Spirit’

The festival’s accompanying world-class exhibition entitled ‘From Spark to Spirit’ continues until February 4, 2023 at JAX 03 (JAX District), Riyadh, curated by Neville Wakefield (lead curator) and Gaida AlMogren (associate curator). The exhibition traces the role light plays in shaping our relationship to a world in which light itself has become a signal of change, exploring themes such as the ‘Technologies of Light’, ‘Architectonics of Light’ and ‘Consciousness of Light’.

Just as the Light and Space Movement, which began in California in the 1960s, reflected changes in the established order, this exhibition explores a landscape of light inflected by the rapid cultural transformations shaping the Middle East.

While the exhibition acknowledges the histories that have been shaped by the experience of West Coast America and the West in general, the show is structured as a cultural dialogue.Neville Wakefield, the exhibition lead curator, said: “As explored in ‘From Spark to Spirit’, it is evident that light in this world can be seen as an integral means of communication. We are now connected to each other by screens – by the light of information. We communicate with one another through the direct manipulation of light to form words and images that together map a collective consciousness, bringing us together in an era of rapid technological and cultural transformation.”All images courtesy of the artists.

Exhibition artists include Alicja Kwade, Claudia Comte, Daniah Alsaleh, Diana Thater, Doug Aitken, Eli Joteva, Gisela Colón, Haroon Mirza, Hmoud Alattawi, Huda Al-Aithan, Jac Leirner, Jason Ting, Jim Campbell, John Edmark, Larry Bell, Lina Gazzaz, Maryam Tariq, Moath Alofi, Nasser Al Shemimry, Nasser Al Turki, Norma Jeane, Phillip K. Smith III, Refik Anadol, Dr. Saad Al Howede, Theories of Imagination (TOFI), UVA (United Visual Artists), Walaa Fadul, Dr. Zahrah Al Ghamdi, Zarah Hussain and Zeinab Alhashemi.More information here: https://riyadhart.sa/en/noor-riyadh/All images courtesy of the artists.

Noor Riyadh was the first of the Riyadh Art programs to launch, inaugurating what is becoming the project’s legacy of transforming Riyadh into a gallery without walls. Comprising of 10 programs, delivering more than 1,000 public art installations across the city created by local and international artists, and supported by two annual festivals, including Noor Riyadh, Riyadh Art is working to transform the capital into a vibrant, cosmopolitan city and enrich lives through creative joyful experiences, in line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 goals.

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