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Noor Riyadh’s Gallery Without Walls Lights Up The City

Last weekend, a number of new, substantial modern pieces of public art were unveiled in Riyadh's Wadi Hanifa.

The artworks are part of Noor Riyadh, an annual festival of light and art that includes over 190 pieces created by over 130 Saudi and foreign artists from over 40 different nations. They are on display in 40 sites across Riyadh’s five major hubs through November 19th.

Gisela Colon, an American/Puerto Rican artist, created “One Thousand Galaxies of Light,” which comprises 100 upright, white light tubes that are each 2.5 meters tall and are arranged in an oval pattern. It is in keeping with this year’s Noor Riyadh theme, “We Dream of New Horizons,” envisioning a forest of mythological horizons metaphorically pointing toward a thriving future.

Visitors can view “De Anima,” an artwork by Riyadh-based choreographer, dancer, and artist Salah Ibrahim that features visuals projected on the underside of a bridge in the Wadi Hanifa wetlands, at a nearby main road. It represents how the spirit and life’s essence are animated by light.

The interactive project “Ghosts of Today and Tomorrow” by Saudi multimedia artist Ahaad Alamoudi, which examines the function of light as a natural transmitter of information, is another piece on view in Wadi Hanifah. It consists of two antique pigeon towers referencing the past employment of pigeons as messengers and a vocalist who sings a mawwal, an Arabic folk song, as light emanates from the apertures in each tower.

Miguel Blanco-Carrasco, the executive director of Noor Riyadh, told Arab News that light is a universally accessible medium, and they endeavor to make art accessible to everyone. Saudi artist Muhannad Shono’s “I See You Brightest in the Dark,” which is on display at Bayt Al-Malaz, is another centerpiece. While using handpicked stills from movies with subtitles, Saudi-Palestinian artist Ayman Yossri Daydban’s “If God Willing, All Will be Resolved” employs light to paint Arabic lettering.

Obaid Al-Safi, a Saudi artist, presents "Carving the Future" in a desolate setting exploring the relationship between desert and civilization.

In his moving installation "Between Biotic and Bionic," Saudi artist Ayman Zedani examines how people increasingly view nature in Gulf cities as imitations, like synthetic rainforests or neon jungles, blurring the line between what is genuine and what is artificial.

Malagasy artist Joel Andrianomearisoa's text pieces are not to be missed either. The neon-and-metal sculpture, which is located in the King Abdullah Financial District, conveys the words "On a Never-Ending Horizon, a Future Nostalgia to Keep the Present Alive," which talks of love, hope, and dreams for the future.

Noor Riyadh is the first installation under the auspices of Riyadh Art, the Kingdom's first public art initiative. It aspires to beautify the city, turn it into a "gallery without walls," and foster the populace's creative spirit.

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