'Haweia': winning entry for The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award 2020 unveiled in Abu Dhabi

The installation at NYUAD’s campus, conceptualised by three students from the American University of Sharjah, can be viewed online

The winning entry for The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award 2020 was unveiled for the first time in Abu Dhabi, and can be viewed online.

Called Haweia, the installation was conceived and built by three architecture students from the American University of Sharjah who won $10,000 in prize money to complete the piece.

The artwork at New York University – Abu Dhabi's campus is, however, not open to the public because of ongoing social-distancing measures. But a detailed 360° view, as well as a time-lapse video of its installation, is available on the NYUAD Art Gallery's website.

Laura AlDhahi from Kuwait, Sara Mohamed from Egypt and Sahil Rattha Singh from India named their work Haweia, which is Arabic for "identity".

The installation consists of a smooth exterior facade of folded aluminium that is shaped like an oculus. The interior features reflective surfaces and fins framed to offer different perspectives. The purpose is to give visitors a lens through which they can discover different configurations of their haweia as they move inside the piece.

The award, held under the patronage of Sheikha Shamsa bint Hamdan Al Nahyan, is currently in its ninth year, and presented by NYUAD in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation.

The award's selection committee for 2020 included Admaf founder Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo, NYUAD provost Fabio Piano, Abu Dhabi Art director Dyala Nusseibeh, artist Azza Al Qubaisi and guest juror Kevin Jones, founder of communications consultancy Juniper Mind.

"The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award was established nearly a decade ago, along with the late Christo, to cultivate creativity in the UAE that is inspired by his and Jeanne-Claude's work," said Alkhamis-Kanoo. "Through the award, we continue his legacy, providing young artists with the opportunity to realise their project and showcase their work."

The winning artists were supported throughout the process by experts, including associate professor at AUS Jason Carlow, NYUAD Art Gallery and visual arts faculty, and the award team at Admaf.

"Our winning team faced university campus closure, having to create home studios – sometimes in different countries – and now the launch of Haweia in a virtual setting," said Emily Doherty, director of The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award.

“And yet, throughout the competition, they have shown their mettle by leaning into the challenges and continuing to work intensively. Congratulations to them all.”

Applications for the award's 2021 iteration opened last October and closed this February. The winning work is set to be unveiled in November.

The award is granted to students and young artists who propose artworks intended to be shown publicly and draw from elements of architecture, installation, photography, video and land art, similar to the work of the duo Christo and Jeanne-Claude. During their time, the two produced environmental and installation art, often using everyday materials such as plastic and fabric.