Streets of Riyadh to be illuminated by inaugural festival of light and art

More than 60 artists will exhibit in the inaugural Noor Riyadh, as part of efforts to turn the city into an open-air gallery

Squidsoup's 'Submergence' is one of the installations that will be on show as part of Noor Riyadh. Courtesy the artists and Light Art Collection.
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The streets of Riyadh will be lit up from March 18, as Noor Riyadh, a first of its kind annual festival of light and art, begins.

More than 60 artists from 20 countries will be exhibiting in the inaugural event, with close to 40 per cent of them hailing from Saudi Arabia.

Ahmed Mater's 'Antenna (Green)', 2010, from the series, Antenna Neon tubes. Courtesy of Nour Riyadh

In addition to large-scale installations across the city, the event will host an exhibition called Light Upon Light: Light Art since the 1960s. Also running alongside the event is a diverse programme of activities, including tours, talks, workshops, family activities, films and music, many of which will also be available online to reach a wider audience.

Carsten Holler's Light Wall. Courtesy Noor Riyadh 
Carsten Holler's Light Wall. Courtesy Noor Riyadh 

The 2021 event is being held under the theme, Under One Sky, which, organisers say, alludes to “the universal human impulse to gather around light, to look into the flames of a campfire and to gaze at the stars”.

Noor Riyadh is the first initiative from the Riyadh Art project, which will feature more than 1,000 public art installations across 10 programmes and two annual festivals. The project aims to turn Riyadh into "a gallery without walls" and is part of wider attempts to transform it into one of the world's most liveable cities.

Among the 63 creatives participating in Noor Riyadh are Saudi artists Ahmed Mater, Lulwah Al Homoud, Ayman Zedani, Rashed AlShashai and Maha Malluh, and international artists Daniel Buren, Carsten Holler, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Yayoi Kusama and Dan Flavin.

The installations will be set across multiple locations in Riyadh, with two main hubs, the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) and the King Abdulaziz Historical Centre (KAHC), from Thursday, March 18 to Saturday, April 3.