Noor Riyadh 2023


Four artists -Aidha Badr, Amna AlBaker, Mashael Alsaie and Talin Hazbar- have been selected for 'Refracted Identities, Shared Futures', the exhibition accompanying the 2023 of Noor Riyadh.

Held at the Riyadh art space in JAX District, this exhibition is curated by Neville Wakefield, formerly of MoMA PS1, Frieze Projects, and Desert X, alongside Maya Al Athel, who served as artistic manager of the festival in 2022.

Last year, the exhibition considered light as a signal of change, tracing the role light plays in shaping our perception of the world. For 2023, the show celebrates light as a flux, where artists as cartographers of light comprehend the dynamic nature of human and cultural identity amidst the shifting sands of time.

'STORY OF LAND, SEA, AND STARS' (2023) by Amna AlBaker

Amna Al Baker’s Story of Land, Sea, and Stars (2023) is a multimedia installation inspired by the origins of the Arabian Peninsula’s inhabitants and their connection to the local environment. Comprising a meticulously hand-embroidered cape, produced in collaboration with Tamader AlSultan, and a painted astronomy map depicting the sky of the Arabian Peninsula, the light-enhanced artwork looks at these inhabitants’ relationship with the land, sea and stars.

Just as the natural elements shaped people’s way of life, it also molded their identities. The artwork illuminates the interplay between the sacred and the human, light and darkness, and nature and culture, urging us to recognize the importance of preserving ancient knowledge.

'Earth Records' (2023) by Talin Hazbar

Talin Hazbar’s Earth Records (2023) is a newly-commissioned series of nine sand structures that explores the formation of organic structures by using mold-making techniques. Footage of the creation of the hole-shaped structures is projected onto their surface so that the ongoing digging is continuously showcased, revealing both the process and its outcome simultaneously.

By showing how these sand structures were created, the artwork delves into the multifaceted nature of digging, symbolizing preservation, concealment, discarding, burial and the pursuit of valuable or invaluable possessions. It also communicates the notion of sacredness and our profound connection to the earth.

'Sea of Tears' (2023) by Mashael Al Saie

Mashael Al Saie’s Sea of Tears (2023) is a multimedia installation that investigates the folklore of Ain Adhari, a desolate natural spring in Bahrain. The myth of the maiden of Adhari recalls the plight of a young woman who is menacingly approached by a strange man in a palm tree grove. She consequently wails in fear until her tears alchemize into an eternal spring.

Through the lenses of mythology, eco-feminism and oral histories, Sea of Tears reimagines the metaphysical transformation of Ain Adhari from the young woman’s physical body into a body of water. The installation is a three-part narrative composed of sculptural glass tears, video and audio.

'Please don’t leave me yet, we know so little about each other' (2023) by Aidha Badr 

Aidha Badr’s Please don’t leave me yetwe know so little about each other (2023) is a newly-commissioned immersive art installation that draws inspiration from Alexandria’s vibrant tapestries and the interplay of light on the city’s streets. According to the artist, the installation, which consists of luminous strings of light, delves into the concepts of ‘being’ and ‘non-being.’ Badr says “[the artwork] serves as a mirror reflecting our own experiences, beckoning us to explore the questions of being and non-being, of presence and absence, and of the interconnectedness of all things.”

Like the Arabic term yuqal, which distinguishes hearsay from firsthand experiences, the strings of light become conduits of transient recollections, bearing witness to memory’s delicate fragility, its capacity to distort and transform, all while enveloping us with a profound sense of belonging.


Noor Riyadh's accompanying exhibition runs from November 30, 2023 to March 2, 2024, at the Riyadh Art space in JAX District