Under the patronage of H.H. Sheikha Shamsa Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan, NYU Abu Dhabi, in partnership with Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF), unveiled the winning submission of the fifth edition of The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award at the NYU Abu Dhabi Campus last Wednesday.
Crafted by NYU Abu Dhabi alumna and current graduate student at Paris Sorbonne–Abu Dhabi, Anna Kurkova, the winning submission titled DUNESCAPE will be on display until Thursday, May 11 at the university campus. An additional showing will include Umm Al Emarat Park in Abu Dhabi from May 18 to June 3.
A sculptural installation that merges modernist architecture with the natural beauty of the desert, DUNESCAPE explores the relationship between urban development and the natural world. The project inspires viewers to reflect upon the past while contemplating the future in the context of their immediate surroundings.
H.E. Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo, Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF) said: “The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award has firmly established itself as a remarkable platform for nurturing the artistic practice of promising young UAE-based practitioners. Anna Kurkova’s sculptural installation DUNESCAPE is deeply relevant in both concept and vision and allows us to experience the profound juxtaposition between the manmade and natural environments of the UAE today.”
Director and Chief Curator of the NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery Maya Allison said: “The Christo Award offers a key opportunity for young artists to gain professional experience creating public art. Art in the public realm is among the most technically challenging forms, but reaches a far wider audience than most museum exhibitions. We are proud to play a role in UAE arts education beyond the boundaries of our campus.”
The groundbreaking work addresses contemporary issues of environmental protection and cultural memory, reconnecting viewers with nature within the context of urbanization and the mega-cities now embedded in the vast desert of the UAE. Rooted in the topographies of the earth, DUNESCAPE takes inspiration from linear sand dunes. Designed as perfect squares, with their shape, the panels of the installation signal the grounded, resilient nature of the desert and its inhabitants.
Christo commented, “The value of great art cannot be measured but it can be enjoyed by all people, of all cultures. I am glad to support the Award and to see the young artists of the UAE realise their ambitions.”
Award Director Emily Doherty said, “Five years on, the Award inspires and supports aspiring artists across the UAE, helping to launch careers. Hundreds have applied since the Award was established in 2012 and eight winners have been given the chance to realise ambitious works of art.”
Open to UAE-based students and graduates within the last five years, The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award was established to encourage the creation of new artwork in the UAE, acting as a launch pad for visual artists across the Emirates and offering the winner an insight into professional life as an artist from commission to exhibition.