The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award opens for applications from students and young artists

The winning entrant will receive $10,000 to produce their artworks, which will be unveiled in Abu Dhabi in November 2021

'Sila', the winning submission for The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award 2019. Courtesy ADMAF
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Applications for the Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award, presented by NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) and Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation (ADMAF), are now open.

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 duo Christo and Jeanne-Claude. During their time, the two produced environmental and installation art, often using everyday materials such as plastic and fabric.

University students or those who have graduated within the last five years must submit their applications online, which should include a nomination by a mentor, whether it is a practicing artist, professor or gallerist. Applicants must also provide details about their proposed artwork, including the production process and costs.

The winner or winners will receive $10,000 to create their work, as well as an additional $5,000 from Christo’s estate. The work will then be presented to the public at NYUAD’s campus in November 2021 before touring other public spaces in the capital.

Last year's winners were students from the American University of Sharjah, Falwah Alhouti, Ibrahim Abdellatif, and Omer Al Raee, who created Sila, a black and white installation inspired by the Emirati folkloric dance Al-Ayyalah, where men dance to drum beats and poetic chanting. This sense of unity and rhythm was visually translated in the work, which comprised of two rows of units with alternating heights that tapered towards each other, giving the illusion of movement.

Established in 2012, the Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award is supported under the patronage of Sheikha Shamsa bint Hamdan Al Nahyan. It is named after artists Christo Vladimirov Javacheff and Jeanne-Claude Marie Denat, whose ambitious public works include the wrapping and draping of historical buildings such as the Pont Neuf in Paris and the Reichstag in Berlin in the mid-1980s and 1990s.

The artist Christo Yavacheff, centre, meets with Liwa residents Khalfan Al Qubasi, left, Saeed Al Falahi, right, and Obaid Al Mazrouei, front right, in October 2012, to discuss his plans to construct The Mastaba, a pyramid of 410,000 barrels. Antonie Robertson / The National

The couple had a special relationship to the UAE, where they intended to install a massive mastaba, or Mesopotamian mud bench, made of 410,000 oil barrels in Abu Dhabi’s Liwa desert. Though the work never came to fruition in the artists’ lifetimes – Jeanne-Claude died in 2009 and Christo in June – they developed a love for the UAE landscape, with Christo in particular travelling to Al Dhafra and Madinat Zayed for research and art workshops.

This appreciation for the emirates also led to his development of the award, which aims to nurture emerging artists in the UAE. Christo would often meet with the students and artists, and in 2018 took two award winners to London to see his work The London Mastaba in Hyde Park. Consisting of 7,506 red and blue barrels, the piece was a smaller-scale version of his Abu Dhabi aspiration.

Before his death, Christo was developing L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, which planned for Paris's Arc de Triomphe to be wrapped in 25,000 square metres of blue fabric and 7,000 metres of red rope. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the work is now scheduled to be unveiled in September 2021.

Applications for the ninth edition of the Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award are open until February 4, 2021.

See more images of Christo in the UAE in the gallery below:

More information can be found on NYUAD’s website