Sheikha Maryam bint Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, winner of the 2013 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award, unveiled her art installation Mirari yesterday at NYU Abu Dhabi’s (NYUAD) Downtown Campus — the first of four sites in the UAE to host the work. Sheikha Maryam bint Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a fourth-year art and design and visual arts student at Zayed University, was selected from 26 applicants as the recipient of the inaugural Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award. The award, under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Shamsa bint Hamdan Al Nahyan and presented by the NYUAD Institute in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF), was established to encourage and celebrate the creation of new artwork by higher education students and recent graduates in the UAE.
Mirari is an installation designed to evoke the effect of a mirage through 30 closely clustered, light-reflective panels. These panels, which are raised slightly off the ground, appear in three triangular forms — right, equilateral, and isosceles — each repeated 10 times. As the viewer approaches the work, the form takes on new qualities and an altered relationship with its environment and surroundings. True to the shape-shifting nature of the mirage, the outline of the cluster of triangles can be altered depending on location, environment, quality of light, day, and season.
“My style is dream-like. The idea of a mirage came to me because you don’t know if it’s real or not,” Sheikha Maryam bint Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan explained. “I also wanted to create something traditional and characteristic of the UAE, and was inspired by the experience of seeing mirages here.”
“The work can be set up in any location,” she added. “I want to intrigue viewers and incite their curiosity about what is there in the space.”
Mirari will be exhibited in locations throughout the UAE and will be open for public viewing. The installation can be viewed at: NYUAD’s Downtown Campus from March 12 to April 4; Al Majaz Waterfront in Sharjah from April 9 to 30; Higher Colleges of Technology in Al Ruwais from May 5 to 26; and Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort in Abu Dhabi from May 30 to June 16.
Discussing the importance of this award at the ceremony, H.E. Mrs. Hoda I. Al Khamis-Kanoo, founder and artistic director of the Abu Dhabi Festival, said: “As patron of the award, Her Highness Sheikha Shamsa bint Hamdan Al Nahyan’s leadership reflects our continuing efforts to nurture a culture of arts appreciation and arts practice across the Emirates. It is only fitting that we achieve this by investing in the young people of this country. Through ADMAF’s strategic partnership with NYUAD, we can truly shine a light on emerging talent within the UAE. Christo remains one of the most inspiring artists of his generation and the legacy of Christo and Jeanne-Claude will be preserved within this award. We hope that the inaugural award will act as a dynamic platform for visual artists across the Emirates to nurture and launch the next generation of home-grown artists.”
NYUAD Provost Fabio Piano, who was a member of the judging panel, said: “Sheikha Maryam’s work stood out as a compelling and beautiful project that was in the spirit of the Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award, while demonstrating the artist’s original vision. Her work will bring a new dimension and experience to any location where it is exhibited — be it in an urban space or in a coastal or desert landscape. We congratulate Sheikha Maryam on this significant accomplishment and look forward to seeing her continued development as an artist in the UAE.”
Renowned artist and namesake of the award Christo said: “I am delighted that this award can play its part launching and supporting young visual artists in the UAE. Appreciation of art is the mark of a great civilization and the enthusiasm shown by the 26 entrants to this year's award is a credit to them and to this country. My congratulations go to the winner, to the runners-up, and to the 26 entrants from colleges across the UAE. I should also like to record my thanks to Her Highness Sheikha Shamsa Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan as Patron, to the selection committee, and to NYUAD Institute and ADMAF for making the award the success that it has been in this, its inaugural year.”