Noor Riyadh festival of light and art ready to showcase 190+ artworks by 130+ local and international artists across Saudi Arabia’s Capital

Riyadh, November 3, 2022 – Noor Riyadh is an annual festival of light and art, taking place across 40 locations across the capital of Saudi Arabia. From November 3 – 19, 2022, over 190 artworks and installations illuminate the city of Riyadh 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’. The festival is co-curated by Hervé MikaeloffDorothy Di Stefano and Jumana Ghouth. Many renowned names in light art are united with an expanding roster of emerging and established local artists, for many of whom light is a new artistic medium within Saudi Arabia. Artists from 40 countries as far and wide as Madagascar, Uganda, Japan, Puerto Rico, Turkey, Poland, France, United Kingdom and United States, have been selected to display significant works of light art under the theme ‘We Dream of New Horizons’, centered around a sense of hopefulness for the future, with connotations that are positive, optimistic and reflective of a confidence in renewal and transformation. A selection of artists respond to important global issues for example the environment and climate crisis, explored by Saudi artists Zahra Al Ghamdi and Rashed AlShashai. Meanwhile, pioneering technology, design and machine intelligence meet light art at Noor Riyadh, with pieces by Refik Anadol and Scarlet Motiff. A strong cohort of women artists from Saudi Arabia and across the globe are participating, such as Sarah BrahimDania AlSalehZineb SediraGisela Colón and Ahaad Alamoodi. Some artworks will inject new creative life into the city’s corporate spaces, while others explore how the medium of glass influences visitors’ experience with light-based, immersive and interactive artworks, with monumental pieces by artists Larry BellAlicija KwadeSabine MarcelisDaniel Buren and Douglas Gordon.
Noor Riyadh Exhibition – ‘From Spark to Spirit’ The festival’s accompanying exhibition entitled ‘From Spark to Spirit’ takes place from November 3, 2022 to 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. Example artists include Doug AitkenHuda Al-AithanZeinab AlhashemiZahrah Al GhamdiRefik AnadolLarry Bell, Jim CampbellJohn EdmarkPhillip K. Smith IIIDiana ThaterHaroon Mirza and Theories of Imagination
All images courtesy of the artists. Photos © Noor Riyadh 2022, a Riyadh Art program. 
Images L-R: Phillip K. Smith III, Flat Portal 4:1, 2022; Gisela Colón, Rectanguloid (Quasar Spectrum), 2022; Huda Al-Aithan, Numinous Najd, 2022. 
Monumental and site-specific artworks Among the highlights at Noor Riyadh are the selection of artworks that will be presented for the duration of the festival. At least 90 artworks are new commissions, which have been specifically created for this edition. These include The Garden of Light by Charles Sandison, a video projection in the Diplomatic Quarter hub that investigates the virtual horizon created between history and the digital world. On view just around the corner is Amplexus by Grimanesa Amorós, a light sculpture that radiates light through the air, enveloping and embracing the architecture, space and the viewer. Another fascinating piece isDaan Roosegaarde’Waterlicht installation that turns water into light. The work at Salam Park encompasses a dream landscape about the power and poetry of water with an ecological message. Elsewhere at Salam Park, Cupid’s Koi Garden, the world’s first inflatable fountain, is a fantastical artwork by art company Eness, that draws inspiration from formal civic fountains and classical statues. At King Abdullah Financial District, Asaad Badawi’s Chasing the Sun showcases brightly colored fiberglass shapes that conjure planetary motions. On a similar theme of ingenuity, multidisciplinary artist Zahra Bundakji creates a sound portrait of women who have shaped and supported dance floors in Saudi Arabia, supported by the universal symbol of dance culture, the disco ball. The work, entitled The Voice of Listening, is available to view at JAX District. 

Spectacular artist-led presentations Pulse of Light, a nightly laser show is performed in central Riyadh that unites Kingdom Tower, Faisaliah Tower and Majdoul Tower. Created by Yann Kersalé in collaboration with show director Martin ArnaudPulse of Light is accompanied by music from Grammy award-winning artist ZeddMarc Brickman’s drone show at King Abdullah Park is also set to be a highlight this year. For Noor Riyadh 2022, Brickman, artist in residence at the Empire State Building in 2020, brings two aerial light installations – the first entitled The Order of Chaos: Chaos in Order, featuring a swarm of 2,000 drones. The second drone show K A L E I D O S C O P E, explores the absurdity of human constriction through technology, and features an interactive element in its choreography. 

Public program The festival also includes a program of over 500 special activities from tours to talks, workshops, family activities and music, some of which are available online and via the Noor Riyadh app, allowing the festival to be enjoyed by a wider audience outside of Riyadh and Saudi Arabia.  Architect Khalid Al-Hazani, Riyadh Art Program Director, explained: “Noor Riyadh is a big part of plans to creatively transform the Kingdom’s capital into a vibrant and cosmopolitan global city, through arts and culture. Supported by Riyadh Art, Noor Riyadh’s parent body, it features public artworks and diverse community activities that provide enriching art experiences, which bring together local communities, from families to artists, students, professionals and more, with international audiences from across the globe.” Noor Riyadh is a citywide festival of light and art as a Riyadh Art program, November 3 – 19, 2022, Spark to Spirit’ at JAX 03 (JAX District), Riyadh, as part of Noor Riyadh, a Riyadh Art program, November 3, 2022 – February 4, 2023, 

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