'Cocoon': Winners of The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award 2021 announced

The winning installation, which references the shared experience of the Covid-19 pandemic, will go on view in November

Marawan Mahmoud, Nour Elbery, and Rashid Modibbo, architecture students at the American University of Sharjah, have won the Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award 2021. Courtesy NYU Abu Dhabi

The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award 2021 has been awarded to three architecture students from the American University of Sharjah (AUS).

Nour Elbery and Marawan Mahmoud, both from Egypt, and Rashid Modibbo, from Nigeria, have been recognised for their submission Cocoon, an installation work that explores the idea of time – how yesterday and tomorrow merge into one another, reflecting on the individual and collective experiences during the pandemic. The work will be unveiled in Abu Dhabi in November.

Established in 2012, The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award is aimed at young artists in the UAE who wish to create public artworks. The couple behind the award were known for their environmental art and ambitious projects involving famous landmarks around the world.

Presented by New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) and Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation (Admaf), the award provides the winning artists with $10,000 (Dh36,700) to produce their work, along with a gift of $5,000 (Dh18,350) from Christo's estate to fund future projects.

Cocoon will be completed by the artists with the guidance of experts, including the artists' mentor, AUS architecture professor Gregory Watson, award director Emily Doherty, the NYUAD Art Gallery team, NYUAD's visual arts faculty, and the award team at Admaf.

Huda I Alkhamis-Kanoo, founder of Admaf, said that the award is part of the foundation's "commitment to cultivating the UAE's creative ecosystem".

“We believe that prominent platforms for the nation’s young artists to exhibit their work, along with guidance and support, are essential to the health of culture and the arts.”

Maya Allison, executive director of the NYUAD Art Gallery and the university's chief curator, said: "This year we witnessed how the artists responded to the uncertainty and challenging environment of this time, by using their creativity to design a Cocoon for humanity.

"Their proposal invites us to reflect on our shared experience of the pandemic. It is heartening to see how uncertainty and the unknown have led us to explore new ways of working, while changing the way we live, think, and act, and still, we find ways to create art.”

This year’s selection committee for the award included Alkhamis-Kanoo, NYUAD interim dean of Arts and Humanities Awam Amkpa, director of Abu Dhabi Art Dyala Nusseibeh, and artist Azza Al Qubaisi.