Winning Submission for The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award 2019 Unveiled

Sila, the winning submission for The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award 2019. Courtesy ADMAF.

Inspired by the UAE’s folkloric dance, Sila will go on tour after NYUAD to Abu Dhabi Art for the first time, followed by Umm Al Emarat Park

Press Release

Under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Shamsa bint Hamdan Al Nahyan, NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), in partnership with Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF), unveiled Sila, the winning submission for The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award 2019.

Designed by American University of Sharjah (AUS) students Falwah Alhouti, Ibrahim Abdellatif, and Omer Al Raee, Sila — named after an Arabic term that translates to “link” or “connection” — will be on display at NYUAD until November 13.  For the first time since the Award’s inception, the winning submission will be exhibited at Abu Dhabi Art throughout its duration from November 21-23. Umm Al Emarat Park in Abu Dhabi will then mark Sila’s final touring destination, where the artwork will be on view from November 25 – December 8.

In attendance at NYUAD’s unveiling were Founder of ADMAF HE Huda I. Alkhamis-Kanoo, NYUAD Vice Chancellor Mariët Westermann, Director of the Award Emily Doherty, NYUAD Provost Fabio Piano, Executive Director of The NYUAD Art Gallery and the University’s Chief Curator Maya Allison, and the winning artists.

Throughout the process, these artists were supported by accompanying experts including Doherty, Allison and her team of museum professionals from The NYUAD Art Gallery, NYUAD’s Visual Arts faculty, and their mentor Assistant Professor of Architecture at AUS Juan Roldán Martín. They also received USD 5,000 from Christo to further advance their careers.

“Seven years following its launch, this competitive award has come to be viewed as a national platform for creative innovation in visual arts by highlighting the exceptional creativity of young artists, while assisting in developing and honing their practical skills. What begins with inspiration, develops creatively into a process which results in the work itself. This process emphasises determination, financing, mentoring and, finally, achievement.”

Founder of ADMAF HE Huda I. Alkhamis-Kanoo

“Producing a work of public art is among the most challenging and rewarding projects an artist can undertake: surmounting the challenges of such projects means the artist’s work will reach a much wider audience. With this award, Christo and our collaborators at ADMAF support a rare opportunity for young artists here to gain a very specialized skill set: creating public art. NYUAD’s Visual Arts department, The Art Gallery, and the University are proud to mentor the awardee and produce the award."

Executive Director of The NYUAD Art Gallery and the University’s Chief Curator Maya Allison

The installation takes its inspiration from the characteristic of “unity” represented in the UAE’s folkloric dance, Al-Ayyalah — a combination of poetry, drum music, and simple movements. 

Separated into two rows facing one another just like the dance itself, the installation will be made up of units with varying heights to highlight the diversity of movement. The dynamic quality of the installation is embodied through how these units are interacting with each other and as a group, illustrating their unity. To accentuate the dramatic effect, black and white were selected due to the stillness and motion they create when laid over each other. Having spent much of their time in the UAE, the artists were always moved by the country’s folklore — one that they felt captures both unity and strength — which as a result inspired them to come up with Sila.

The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award 2020 is now open for submissions; deadline for applications is January 23, 2020.

About NYU Abu Dhabi

NYU Abu Dhabi is the first comprehensive liberal arts and research campus in the Middle East to be operated abroad by a major American research university. NYU Abu Dhabi has integrated a highly selective undergraduate curriculum across the disciplines with a world center for advanced research and scholarship. The university enables its students in the sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities, and arts to succeed in an increasingly interdependent world and advance cooperation and progress on humanity’s shared challenges. NYU Abu Dhabi’s high-achieving students have come from over 115 countries and speak over 115 languages. Together, NYU's campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai form the backbone of a unique global university, giving faculty and students opportunities to experience varied learning environments and immersion in other cultures at one or more of the numerous study-abroad sites NYU maintains on six continents.