Christo Award 2020 winner: now virtually live

NYU Abu Dhabi and ADMAF have unveiled the winning submission for The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award 2020.

The installation, titled Haweia (Arabic for ‘identity’), was designed and built by three architecture students from AUS – Laura AlDhahi from Kuwait, Sara Mohamed from Egypt, and Sahil Rattha Singh from India.

It’s now live in a virtual gallery developed in response to ongoing social distancing measures. The 360o view is on the website of The NYUAD Art Gallery, along with a time-lapse video of the winning work being installed on NYUAD’s campus.

The installation has a smooth exterior façade of folded aluminium that converges at an oculus, representing a focused moment in time and space. The complex interior has reflective surfaces and fins oriented to frame different perspectives. The result aims to serve as a lens through which visitors can contemplate their inner selves and discover different configurations of their own identityas they move (virtually) around and inside the piece.

The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award is open to UAE-based students and recent graduates and is given for “the proposal and creation of an artwork that, in the spirit of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s work, can be publicly exhibited and enjoyed”. It was established to provide a launch pad for visual artists, offering winners an insight into professional life as an artist from commission to exhibition; the winners received $10,000 to produce the work plus a further $5,000 at the end of the exhibition to fund future projects.

“Each year, The Christo Award ventures into new territory on the journey of bringing a major public artwork into existence,” said Maya Allison, Executive Director of The NYUAD Art Gallery. “A global pandemic certainly took this eighth edition into even more unexpected territory than usual, but our winners found a way to bring their concept to life. The journey we all undertook to reach this point, in a new time signature, in a new virtual way of working, and the completely different kind of context for unveiling a work, reflects the core of our mission: to learn by doing.”

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