Presenting 120 large-scale pieces by 100 contemporary artists from over 35 countries, Noor Riyadh, the world's largest annual light art festival, is back for its third edition from November 30 to December 16. The festival spans Riyadh, with artworks also distributed across five main hubs: King Abdullah Financial District, Salam Park, Wadi Hanifa, Wadi Namar, and Jax District, allowing visitors to explore vibrant displays via a mapped route.
Miguel Blanco-Carrasco, an adviser at the Royal Commission for Riyadh City and Riyadh Art, emphasizes the festival's goal to integrate into Riyadh's fabric and enhance the city's appeal for its residents. To streamline the experience, feedback from over 20,000 surveys led to consolidating 40 locations from the previous year into the five primary hubs, ensuring accessibility for everyone.
Nouf Almoneef, the festival's director, highlights the mission to transform Riyadh into an open-air gallery, creating a legacy that will allow artists to exhibit their work around the world. The festival's distinctive feature lies in its curatorial story, encouraging visitors to construct their own stories from the displayed pieces across Riyadh.
Lead curator Jerome Sans, with support from curators Pedro Alonzo, Fahad bin Naif, and Alaa Tarabzouni, spent six months crafting a symphonic storyline within the city's diverse landscape. The theme, "Bright Side of the Desert Moon," explores the global issue of desertification, relevant to Riyadh's location in the Nafud desert.
The festival's hubs, symbolically orbiting Riyadh like the moon, create a cross-city celebration with illuminated artworks at each location. This year’s theme resonates with SUPERFLEX, a Copenhagen-based collective, emphasizing the need for behavioral and perspective shifts through art, as seen in their artwork “Vertical Migration” projecting sea territories onto a KAFD building.
Noor Riyadh, under Riyadh Art, aims to democratize art engagement by placing installations in everyday locations like KAFD and Salam Park. Saudi artist Dur Kattan’s “Closer than They Appear” uses car side mirrors as a metaphor for collective blindness to humanity. While hosting renowned artists like Yayoi Kusama, the festival also serves as a platform for emerging talents, contributing to Riyadh's cultural calendar success. The festival's triumph owes itself to the collaboration of talented artists, dedicated teams, and the enthusiastic public, according to Almoneef.