For the third edition of Noor Riyadh, the largest festival of light and art in the world, renowned and up-and-coming artists from more than 35 countries are convening in the capital of Saudi Arabia, joining over 35 emerging and established Saudi talents. This diverse group features art practitioners boasting various backgrounds that include performance art, architecture, engineering, graphic design and even medicine.
Artworks will be exhibited across five main hubs and additional locations throughout Riyadh City, with the central hub located at the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD), the prestigious business and lifestyle destination in the beating heart of the capital.
New site-specific commissions will be produced by artists including Ayman Yossri Daydban, Aziz Jamal, Erwin Wurm, Jose Dávila and Younes Rahmoun in response to this year’s theme ‘The Bright Side of the Desert Moon’, exploring the desert as a place of reconnection where our differences dissipate. A plethora of outstanding Saudi and international female artists features Angelika Markul, Claudia Comte, Huda Alnasir, Marinella Senatore, Nevin Aladağ, Sarah Abu Abdallah, Shilpa Gupta, Sophie Laly and Vivian Caccuri, among others.
The participants represent the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Brazil, Belgium, Canada, China, Colombia, Cuba, Denmark, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Oman, Palestine, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Qatar, Spain, Switzerland, Syria, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States and Venezuela.
The festival’s accompanying exhibition, ‘Refracted Identities, Shared Futures’ at JAX District, is curated by Neville Wakefield and Maya Al Athel. Artists Abdulmohsen Al Bin Ali, Artur Weber, Bashaer Hawsawi, Cecilia Bengolea, Federico Acciardi, Leo Villareal, Shaikha Al Mazrou and others celebrate light as a dynamic force, akin to a river of time, shaping and reshaping the contours of our human and cultural identities. In a world that is constantly evolving, light serves as a profound metaphor for the fluid nature of who we are and where we come from.
Led by world-renowned art practitioner Jérôme Sans, curators Pedro Alonzo, Alaa Tarabzouni and Fahad Bin Naif conceived the festival as a journey across various locations transporting visitors from the heart of the city to the doors of the desert through five main hubs. In the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD), a futuristic metropolis within the capital, immersive and interactive works transform the business destination into a night-time hub of creativity. Once an industrial area in Ad-Diriyah and now the ultimate artistic nexus, the JAX District features a route spanning indoor and outdoor spaces, giving visitors an opportunity to experience an exhibition without borders.
Family oriented and interactive, Salam Park is one of Riyadh’s urban oases, where installations and projections offer families, friends and wanderers a chance to share and indulge in moments of playfulness and calm. In Wadi Namar, the visitor is invited to stroll alongside the cliffs and the water’s edge, admiring spectacular artworks reminiscent of voyages and adventures. Finally, at Wadi Hanifa artworks become portals to other worlds, transporting the audience to parallel universes and temporalities. During the festival the five hubs will host tours, creative experiences, family activities, workshops, talks and lectures.
Khaled Al-Hazani, Executive Director of the Riyadh Art Program, said: “Riyadh’s evolution into a dynamic global metropolis is tied to our country’s rich artistic tapestry. Riyadh Art and the Noor Riyadh festival enhance livability in Saudi Arabia’s capital city by celebrating local and international creativity and bringing art to the people. From families to budding artists, students to established professionals, Noor Riyadh offers a platform for artistic exchange, unites residents and visitors in creative expression, and weaves an intricate cultural narrative that resonates globally, bridging communities and transcending boundaries.”
Committed to developing opportunities for the local community, Noor Riyadh 2023 will feature more than 40 talks, over 100 workshops and family activities, over 1,000 guided tours, while deeply engaging with 450 schools and having 60 university ambassadors as well as 43 apprentices join the festival teams. Through this, Noor Riyadh not only drives cultural transformation and community involvement but also contributes to making Riyadh one of the world’s most livable cities, revitalizing public spaces to unite communities.
Created to foster local artistic talent and ignite Saudi Arabia’s cultural economy, Noor Riyadh is part of Riyadh Art, one of the largest public art initiatives in the world. The ambition of Riyadh Art is to transform the Saudi capital into an awe-inspiring “gallery without walls”, showcasing over 1,000 public artworks dispersed citywide through 10 programs and two annual events.
Across its editions, Noor Riyadh has created unique moments of joy throughout the city, granting millions the chance to appreciate exceptional public light artworks and admire Riyadh in a new light. In 2022, Noor Riyadh marked several milestones, notably drawing in 2.8 million attendees and winning six Guinness World Records, one of which being the largest celebration of light art in the world.