NOOR RIYADH 2023
THE BRIGHT SIDE OF THE DESERT MOON

NOOR RIYADH, RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA 
30 NOVEMBER – 16 DECEMBER 2023

Noor Riyadh, the Largest Light Art Festival in the World, has returned for its third edition, which runs until December 16, 2023. The festival showcases expansive light-based artworks, from ephemeral sculptures and urban projections to immersive site-specific installations, across five pivotal city hubs. Curated by an illustrious team and Riyadh's artists and curators the festival features more than 120 pieces by over 100 artists, such as Monira Al Qadiri, Claudia Comte, Jeppe Hein, and Erwin Wurm, amongst others.

Monira Al Qadiri, THE GUARDIAN 2023
© Image courtesy the artist and HAVAS, photo Noor Riyadh 2023, a Riyadh Art Program

Monira Al Qadiri’s sculpture THE GUARDIAN is inspired by the artist’s visit to the Empty Quarter desert, in the southern end of the Arabian peninsula, where Al Qadiri encountered a tall, bright green plant known as the Calotropis Procera. The plant, which is also referred to by other names such as the Jinn Tree, secretes a toxic milky sap when cut that is reputed to cause blindness. Al Qadiri’s encounter with this plant inspired her to create a monument honoring those affected by blindness. THE GUARDIAN explores the intertwined facts and myths shaping the understanding of nature. A video work accompanies the sculpture, engaging viewers with an anthropomorphic view of the plant, fusing elements of mystery and horror within unfamiliar landscapes.

© Image by Mario Guerra

Monira Al Qadiri’s ZEPHYR series (2023), a collection of three luminescent sculptures, invites the viewer to consider the importance of organisms invisible to the naked eye. During prehistoric times, much of the Arabian Peninsula was submerged in water – consequently, ancient marine fossils can be found in inland areas. Some of these fossils are of dinoflagellates, microscopic marine algae that have existed for hundreds of millions of years and produce half of the world’s oxygen. In ZEPHYR, Al Qadiri was inspired to recreate these organisms on a larger scale, lighting them to mimic their bioluminescent nature. The artwork demonstrates the necessity to pay attention to the health of our oceans and reinstates the relationship between the coastal Gulf and the sea.Claudia Comte's installation consists of an immersive square grid made up of 81 tree trunks, which appear to emerge from the desert floor. Each tree in Claudia Comte’s abstracted forest is six meters high and lit with LED lighting, creating a configuration of pathways. The resulting experience puts the torso and the trunk in direct relation, their physical and tactile proximity both intimate and distancing. Due to the climate crisis, forests around the world are burning at alarming rates. Our global forests are vital for the ecosystem and its biodiversity – fifty percent of the air we breathe comes from forests while the rest is produced by oceans. They are the lungs of our world and rethinking current models is imperative. Instead of economic paradigms based on the destruction and exploitation of forests, we must imagine more ecologically generative systems focused on the survival and cultivation of the environment.

Claudia Comte, MONUMENT TO THE DISAPPEARING FORESTS, 2023 © Image by Rami Mansour

MONUMENT TO THE DISAPPEARING FORESTS grid structure utilises a fundamental creative device that has helped humans map and represent the world around us. The generative potential of geometric grids have been used by artists throughout Due to the climate crisis, forests around the world are burning at alarming rates. Our global forests are vital for the ecosystem and its biodiversity — fifty percent of the air we breathe comes from forests while the rest is produced by oceans. They are the lungs of our world and rethinking current models is imperative. Instead of economic paradigms based on the destruction and exploitation of forests, we must imagine more ecologically generative systems focused on the survival and cultivation of the environment. MONUMENT TO THE DISAPPEARING FORESTS grid structure utilises a fundamental creative device that has helped humans map and represent the world around us. The generative potential of geometric grids have been used by artists throughout history such as da Vinci, Dürer, and Michelangelo, as a tool to find the “perfect view” – to transmit the three-dimensional world onto a surface. Placed in the centre of the installation is an old debarked and smoothed-down oak trunk with a hole at eye level that provides another new perspective. From here, the otherwise enclosed annual rings of the oak tree become visible. This large-scale wooden environment can be experienced both from a distance and up-close – a city landmark, but also an experience that encourages an intimate, collective, and dynamic relationship with the work. Situated in the public sphere, MONUMENT TO THE DISAPPEARING FORESTS can be perceived as a forest that comes to life in the desert light. 

Claudia Comte, MONUMENT TO THE DISAPPEARING FORESTS, 2023 © Image by Rami Mansour

Jeppe Hein’s RED MODIFIED STREET LIGHTS consist of elongated, tilting, winding, rapidly rising, or falling street-light poles with wide arches, sharp bends, or small loops, creating inviting and interactive forms. Besides its obvious task of offering illumination, the altered and diverting shapes of the piece initiate a conversation that includes the setting of the artwork and the individuals who utilize and interact in this space as essential components of the piece. They are encouraged to rethink topics such as the function and intent of the creation of the artwork by engaging with it and its surroundings. The public becomes aware of how urban design channels emotion, creativity, and personal thoughts.

Jeppe Hein, RED MODIFIED STREET LIGHT #02, #03, #04, #08, 2022
Courtesy of the artist KÖNIG GALERIE, Berlin, 303 GALLERY New York, and Galleri Nicolai Wallner, Copenhagen, Noor Riyadh and Havas © Images Mohammed Bu Hasan

Erwin Wurm's artwork states: ONE MINUTE, echoing recurring aspects of his artistic approach. Light emerges from within words that precariously stand on top of each other as if they might fall the moment that perfect balance is lost. The bubbly and puffed-up appearance of the pink artwork are reminiscent of plastic balloons and some of the artist’s previous works, while the words refer directly to Wurm’s “One Minute Sculptures”. One Minute wills itself to be a testimony – of the backbone of Wurm’s practice, encompassing how an ephemeral gesture becomes an artwork, how the fleeting becomes permanent.

Erwin Wurm, ONE MINUTE, 2023 © Image Noor Riyadh

FEATURED ARTISTS

MONIRA AL QADIRI

Monira Al Qadiri (b. 1983) is a Kuwaiti visual artist born in Senegal and educated in Japan. Spanning sculpture, installation, film, and performance, Al Qadiri’s multifaceted practice is based on research into the cultural histories of the Gulf region. Her interpretation of the Gulf’s so-called “petro-culture” is manifested through speculative scenarios that take inspiration from science fiction, autobiography, traditional practices, and pop culture, resulting in uncanny and covertly subversive works that destabilize mythologies of statecraft and modernization as well as traditional notions of gender. Tracing the delicate ecologies threate...
Read more

CLAUDIA COMTE

Claudia Comte (b. 1983 in Grancy, Switzerland) is an artist based in the countryside outside of Basel, Switzerland. She studied at the Ecole Cantonale d’Art de Lausanne, ECAL (2004-2007) followed by a Masters of Art in Science of Education at Haute Ecole Pédagogique, Visual Arts, Lausanne, Switzerland (2008-2010). 

Comte works between media, often combining sculptures or installations with wall paintings to create environments where works relate to each other with a visual rhythm that is both methodical and playful. Her work is defined by her interest in the memory of materials and by a careful observation of how the hand relates to d...
Read more

JEPPE HEIN

Jeppe Hein (b. 1974 in Copenhagen, Denmark) is a Danish artist based in Berlin. He studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Arts in Copenhagen, Denmark, and the Städel Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

Jeppe Hein is widely known for his production of experiential and interactive artworks that can be positioned at the junction where art, architecture, and technical inventions intersect. Unique in their formal simplicity and notable for their frequent use of humor, his works engage in a lively dialogue with the traditions of Minimalist sculpture and Conceptual art of the 1970s. Jeppe Hein’s works often feature...
Read more

ERWIN WURM

Erwin Wurm (b. 1954 in Bruck an der Mur, Austria) lives and works in Vienna and Limberg/Austria.

Erwin Wurm's oeuvre mainly comprises sculptures, but also photography, video, performance, and drawing. Many of his works are imbued with whimsical humor that puts the every day in a new perspective. One of his most influential groups of works are his One Minute Sculptures. There he has people pose with everyday objects to question the relationship between subject and object. Wurm's "Fat" sculptures, which show petty-bourgeois status symbols such as cars or single-family homes in an obese, bloated state, are also widely known. His work has...
Read more