NEOM Noor

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NEOM Noor

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Light and dream as an idea of the future

Does Noor mean beautiful?
What does the name Noor mean? Noor means “light” in Arabic and “the other Aenor”, “merciful”, “God is my light”, “torch”, “beautiful”, “light”, “bright” and “shining” (from Eleonora).

The word noor has been used in the Quran to mean seven different things. Allah SWT uses light and darkness to represent guidance from Him and misguidance.

This name is an Arabic originated name with multiple meanings. Noor name meaning is "Light". In Urdu Noor Meaning is "روشنی". This is an Islamic name. …

Does Noor mean light?
The Arabic word nūr (Arabic: نور), associated with the moon, means the opposite of darkness in general. It can be a source of light, and it can be a reflection (or refraction for that matter) of light, too.

The Noor Riyadh Art Festival Illuminates Saudi Arabia’s Capital City

On view through November 19, the immersive event features 190 creative installations that turn Riyadh into a dazzling gallery without walls

By     November 11, 2022

Presenting a festival of light and art, Noor Riyadh returns to illuminate Saudi Arabia’s capital for its second annual edition with 190 creative installations by over 130 artists from more than 40 countries, on view across various locations in Riyadh until November 19. Exploring the theme “We Dream of New Horizons,” which is centered around a sense of hopefulness for the future, the festival aims to promote a positive outlook for the Middle Eastern country’s current societal transformation and spirited architectural renewal. One of the most ambitious international festivals of its kind, the event transforms the city of some seven million into a dazzling night-time “gallery without walls,” which reaches across the largest urban area of any light art festival worldwide.

Curated by Hervé Mikaeloff, Dorothy Di Stefano, and Jumana Ghouth, the immersive experience highlights work by such internationally renowned artists as Doug Aitken, Jean-Michel Othoniel, and Jennifer Steinkamp, who are joined by major Saudi talents including Ahaad Alamoudi and Muhannad Shono.

The festival kicked off with a massive nighttime drone show by Marc Brickman, featuring 2,000 colorfully lit devices flying in choreographed formations for an arresting 12-minute performance in King Abdullah Park. Synched with dramatic music created by film score composers, Brickman—the artist-in-residence at the Empire State Building for the past ten years and the producer of legendary light shows for Pink Floyd and numerous other bands—arranged a sequence of integrated abstract forms in the sky that started out spiritually but soon took on more somber overtones, which seemed to convey the state of the world today. When asked about that quality of the airborne piece, aptly titled the order of chaos: chaos in order, the California artist affirmed: “I like to make people think.”

Set in the heart of the freshly developed King Abdullah Financial District, Jean-Michel Othoniel’s abstract sculpture, Yardang, sparklingly references the wind-eroded ridges in the kingdom’s rocky realms, such as Al Ula, where the highly publicized Desert X takes place. Constructed from mirrored metal bricks, the shiny sculpture rises from the ground like a twisting tornado or spinning sandstorm—reflecting while abstracting the dynamic architectural structures that surround it. While it’s the French artist’s first project in Saudi Arabia, Othoniel has created a number of other public works in the region, including an imaginative installation of 114 fountain sculptures for the National Museum of Qatar in Doha.

In an exceedingly lively area called the Boulevard, which has been dubbed the Times Square of Riyadh, Jennifer Steinkamp’s ongoing Botanic video installation animates the downtown shopping and dining district with an immersive projection of colorful, colliding plants which meditatively transition between breaking apart and coming back together. Displayed on dozens of billboard-size screens, the powerful piece—which has also been presented on the jumbo advertising screens of the actual Times Square—brings a bit of nature into an otherwise commercial zone, while reminding viewers that nearly everything sprouting from the desert nowadays is manmade, with a big helping hand from technology.

In the more historical area of Wadi Hanifa, in the southern section of Riyadh, Saudi artist Ahaad Alamoudi—a rising star who wittily works in video, installation, and performance while splitting her time between London and her hometown of Jeddah—had workers construct a pair of traditional pigeon towers for a stirring light and vocal performance. Creating multiple holes in the towers to cast beams of light into the dark of night, Alamoudi placed larger cut-out circular windows high up in the turrets for conversing singers to perform a mawwal (a traditional form of poetic Arabic music) vocal piece. Mixing the metaphors of pigeons carrying information and the mawwal singer expressing a sentiment, her Ghosts of Today and Tomorrow installation appears to be welcoming a brighter future while lamenting a loss of the past.

Transforming another superlative spot in the city, Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde has flooded the skies over Salam Park Lake with blue LED laser lighting scanned on airborne streams of mist to create a calming cloudlike movement of rich undulating color projected across the popular public park. Titled Waterlicht (Waterlight), this sprawling installation creates a dream landscape about the poetry of water in the face of rising tides, which is an important part of the environmentally conscious artist’s “clean air and clean energy” vision for the future. Summing up his concerns in the park, Roosegaarde rightly told Galerie at water’s edge, “Our world is changing, whether we like it or not.”

Rather than choosing an outdoor location for his light piece, Saudi superstar Muhannad Shono—who is currently representing Saudi Arabia in the Venice Biennale and was a standout in the first edition of Desert X Al Ula in 2020—is occupying a whole house with an expansive, multi-floor installation of thousands of illuminated threads in his wonderful I See You Brightest in the Dark artwork. Leading viewers through a series of interior presentations, from the basement to the roof, Shono casts an ethereal light onto strands of strikingly displayed white threads, sometimes coming straight from the spools while at other moments monumentally stretched through space, to create a sublime, spiritual experience—complete with a meditative soundtrack that leaves you floating on air.

Additional Noor Riyadh highlights include the festival’s fantastic accompanying exhibition, “From Spark to Spirit,” on view in the city’s burgeoning JAX District through February 4. Organized by British independent art curator Neville Wakefield, who is the Artistic Director of Desert X, and Saudi interior architect Gaida AlMogren, the exhibition traces the role light plays in shaping our relationship to a world where light itself has become the signal of change, exploring themes such as the “Technologies of Light,” “Architectonics of Light,” and “Consciousness of Light.”

“I was interested in this idea that light is really the new ink,” Wakefield shared with Galerie. “We’ve been through the Gutenberg Revolution, and just as the internet has become our library—our source of knowledge—light has now become our primary means of communication. I’ve always been fascinated with California’s Light and Space movement, which took on ideas of aerospace technology and fed it into the art world in the 1960s and ’70s. In a way we’re at a similar moment with digital technology, so I became intent on making a journey that somehow mapped this moment, where knowledge is moving from the page to the screen.”

Among the prominent pieces in the “From Spark to Spirit” exhibition, Doug Aitken’s newly commissioned artwork, The River, consists of three figures standing together on a desert landscape, gazing towards a central core. Connecting the life-size figures—two men and a women—at their touching heads, the celebrated American artist and filmmaker fills their transparent bodies with an array of changing color lights to playfully project a shimmering, light and sound scenario, where ideas are seemingly being shared by open-minded, peaceful people.

A Los Angeles–based artist of German and Puerto Rican descent, Gisela Colón has a large, sprawling light installation with 100 stainless steel columned light structures at the festival’s Wadi Hanifa site and a light-reflective wall sculpture in Wakefield and AlMogren’s curated group show. Created with ocular materials, her wall work looks like a painting, yet it contains no paint. Instead, the perceived spectrum of fluid colors comes from the luminosity derived from the environmental lighting conditions and the position of the audience. Depending on the way you see it, her Rectanguloid (Quasar Spectrum) work either lights up your life with color or floats on the wall like a glowing white tub. Either way, it presents a magical mix of 21st-century materials.

Contrastingly, United Visual Artists’s Hidden Order installation focuses on the immaterial, with pinpointed laser lights and ambient music defining the artwork’s perceptive form. Inspired by Renaissance perspective drawings by Leon Battista Alberti, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Albrecht Dürer, Pythagoras’s mathematics and sound observations and the system of geometric patterns found in ancient Islamic art, the collective, which was founded by British artist Matt Clark in 2003, employs perspective and geometry as tools to reshape and redefine a space—in this case, a long, darkened room that fully brought the conceptual nature of the “From Spark to Spirit” exhibition into a distinguishing light.

Noor Riyadh: the festival of light in Saudi Arabia

Giulia Guzzini 15 November 2022

As a result of the large investments in culture that Saudi Arabia has made in recent years, Noor Riyadh is the festival of light that has once again transformed the Saudi capital into an open-air art gallery

Sand, deserts, sandstone mountains and oases, lush plateaus and flourishing plantations alternate seamlessly in the territory enclosed between the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf which corresponds to Saudi Arabia, where the ancient incense route ran.

Halfway between the western coast marked by the cities of Jeddah, Mecca and Medina, and the eastern one where Dammam, Dhahram and Al-Khobar overlook, right in front of Bahrain and Qatar, is the capital Riyadh.

The entire peninsula is undergoing profound social changes: one is enraptured by the typical keffiyeh worn by men and by the traditional black abaya worn by women, leaving only the band around the eyes uncovered , but, at the same time, today we meet girls without veils driving their own cars - a right won five years ago -, testifying to the change undertaken by the country under the leadership of Mohammed bin Salman.

The cultural ferment that crosses the country

These small but fundamental changes correspond to a great cultural ferment which translates into high-profile artistic initiatives.

In recent years, the Saudi government has mobilized to imagine the economy in the post-oil era guided by the strategic plan Vision 2030, studied to reduce Saudi Arabia's dependence on oil, diversify the economy and develop public service sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, culture, recreation and tourism.

Noor Riyadh

The fifth edition of the Tanween festival, which has just concluded in Dammam, within the King Abdulaziz  Center for World Culture (Ithra), a remarkable building completed in 2018 by the Norwegian studio Snøhetta, and the second edition of the Noor Riyadh light festival which opened on November 3rd and will continue until the 19th of this month, bringing grandiose light installations to the Saudi capital with the aim of engaging and nurturing local talent, and bringing together an audience of 7 million residents of Riyadh, including families, creatives, professionals and students, and visitors from all over the world.

Noor Riyadh takes place within Riyadh Art, an even wider-ranging initiative aimed at dotting the streets, squares and neighborhoods of the city ​​with site-specific immersive installations, monumental public artworks, ephemeral sculptures, musical performances and virtual realities produced by local and international artists.

Light and dream as an idea of the future

This year's theme is We Dream of New Horizons (We Dream of New Horizons), which explores the dimension of light both in its technical and functional component and in its symbolic one. In fact, light is an emblem of positivity and hope, it represents renewal, transformation and trust in a brighter future.

The festival is curated by the French Hervé Mikaeloff, consultant and curator for the LVMH group. Mikaeloff is joined by the co-curators Dorothy Di Stefano, known in the world of immersive and interactive art curatorship, and by the Saudi Jumana Ghouth, who deals with the Athr Gallery, one of the main platforms for contemporary art in Saudi Arabia.

From drones to interactive installations

There are 190 the works created which have involved over 130 local and international artists, both established and emerging, representing 40 nationalities.

Among these, there is Marc Brickman, world-renowned lighting and production designer, who during his career has collaborated with dozens of musicians, including Bruce Springsteen, Pink Floyd and Paul McCartney, to animate their live concerts through lights and screens. In Riyadh, this year he brought a ultra-technological performance which sealed the opening ceremony of the festival by making 2,000 drones equipped with multicolor LEDs take off in flight, which gave life thundering shapes in the sky.

Among the installations commissioned to Saudi artists, the work of Muhannad Shono stands out, a Saudi visual artist, born in 1977, graduated in Architecture at the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, who created an immersive installation made of lights, wires and sounds transforming an entire building in a working-class district of Riyadh.

Among the international artists, however, there are important signatures such as the Berlin artist Alicja Kwade, the French Daniel Buren, the award-winning digital artist Refik Anadol and the Dutch Daan Roosegaard, who brought to Riyadh Waterlicht, a virtual installation that recreates a dream landscape to reflect on the power and poetry of water.

Among the Italians, the Quiet Ensemble duo presented the work Vertical Horizon: an interactive installation in which the environment is the true creator of the work. Thanks to a system of cameras and microphone arranged on a pair of screens, the sensory stimuli collected in the surrounding environment simultaneously in Riyadh and Rome, are translated into digital tones and colors that reproduce a lively color scheme on the screens.

The site-specific installations by Johanna Grawunder, a large dark red sphere positioned in front of the Fahd National Library and the work Light Horizon by Sabine Marcelis which, located in the splendid Wadi Namar, consists of 11 staggered pillars which, during the day, project a myriad of color reflections on the reflective surfaces when the sun is striking while, at night, they are transformed into lines of light that filter the colored light onto the surrounding environment.