Noor Riyadh, the Saudi capital’s citywide annual festival of light and art, celebrated its second edition with bigger and bolder figures, including six Guinness World Records titles. Foremost of the record titles that the event achieved is for the largest light art festival, as this year, the festival tripled in size, presenting 201 artworks by more than 130 artists, surpassing the minimum requirement of 185 installations.
In addition, Noor Riyadh 2022 welcomed 2.8 million visitors across its 40 citywide locations and five hubs, an impressive achievement that far surpasses the footfall of its inaugural edition in March 2021.
This year, the festival was held under the theme “We Dream of New Horizons,” which centered around a sense of hopefulness for the future, as well as confidence in renewal and transformation. “We Dream of New Horizons” was curated by Hervé Mikaeloff, Dorothy Di Stefano, and Jumana Ghouth, along with curatorial adviser Arnaud Morand.
Noor Riyadh 2022 included at least 90 new commissions from international and Saudi artists, such as Ahaad Alamoudi, Abdullah Al-Othman, Daniah Al-Saleh, Rashed Al-Shashai, Sarah Brahim, Daniel Buren, Bricklab, Douglas Gordon, Tadashi Kawamata, Alicja Kwade, Jean-Michel Othoniel, and Muhannad Shono.
Marc Brickman’s unforgettable aerial installations that use 1,990 drones as their medium won the Guinness title for the most drones performing an aerial dance display. The choreographed drone display, titled “The Order of Chaos: Chaos in Order,” featured a swarm of drones that moved in fluid choreography over the skies of King Abdullah Park.
Meanwhile, the spectacular “Pulse of Light” by show designer Martin Arnaud is the reason behind two new records achieved: The largest laser show, in terms of area covered, and the longest distance covered by a laser light show. The nightly show, which beamed laser light across King Fahd Road, connecting the city’s most recognizable skyscrapers Kingdom Tower, Faisaliah Tower and Majdoul Tower with light, reached up to 14.4 million square meters, with lasers stretching 15 kilometers in distance, more than doubling the minimum requirements in place.
“Pulse of Light” also broke two additional records, namely the largest mesh screen on a building and highest mesh screen on a building, for its installation on Kingdom Tower.
Prince Badr bin Farhan Al-Saud, minister of culture, board member of the Royal Commission for Riyadh City and chairman of the Steering Committee for Riyadh Art, said: “The success of Noor Riyadh 2022 shows how visionary leadership can elevate arts and culture to new heights. Through the unwavering support of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, prime minister and chairman of the Royal Commission for Riyadh City’s Board of Directors, the country’s culture sector will rise to the aspirations of Vision 2030. Fulfilling Riyadh Art’s aims, Noor Riyadh provides a platform for emerging and established artists to share their ideas here and beyond. To see a Saudi-created initiative break records and put the nation in the forefront of the global art scene as the largest light art festival in the world, creates a moment of pride.”
“Through the continued efforts of all our partners, such initiatives will cement our place within the international cultural landscape,” he added.
With the citywide festival ending on Nov. 19, Noor Riyadh will continue its programming through the world-class exhibition “From Spark to Spirit,” curated by Neville Wakefield and associate curator Gaida Al-Mogren.
The exhibition traces the role of light as a signal for change, exploring themes such as the “Technologies of Light,” “Architectonics of Light” and “Consciousness of Light.” Using the “Light and Space Movement” from the 1960s in California — which reflected changes in the established order — as a reference point, “From Spark to Spirit” proposes how light and art can offer ways to think through the rapid cultural transformations shaping the Middle East.
The show includes works by 30 artists, including Doug Aitken, Zeinab Al-Hashemi, Zahrah Al-Ghamdi, Refik Anadol, Larry Bell, Jim Campbell, John Edmark, Phillip K. Smith III, Diana Thater, Haroon Mirza and Theories of Imagination.
The exhibition runs until Feb. 4, 2023, accompanied by a series of talks, workshops, and community engagement programs for audiences of various ages and interests.