Winners of The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award 2021 Announced

The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award 2020 winning artwork titled "Haweia" - a sculptural installation inspired by notions of identity.

The winning installation is inspired by humanity’s shared experience of the pandemic and will be available for viewing in November

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), has announced the winners of the ninth edition of The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award 2021. The winning trio are architecture students from the American University of Sharjah (AUS): Nour Elbery and Marawan Mahmoud from Egypt, as well as Rashid Modibbo from Nigeria. 

Their winning submission, titled Cocoon, seeks to demonstrate how yesterday and tomorrow merge into one another, blurring time and rhythm, and forcing us to reflect on our shared experience of the pandemic, both individually and collectively. The installation will be available for viewing in November.

H.E. Huda I. Alkhamis-Kanoo, Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation, said: “The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award is a core part of ADMAF’s 25-year commitment to cultivating the UAE’s creative ecosystem. We believe that prominent platforms for the nation’s young artists to exhibit their work, along with guidance and support, are essential to the health of culture and the arts. This year has shown us the importance of both solidarity and art in times of uncertainty, and we are delighted to continue our partnership with Christo and NYU Abu Dhabi to bring the winning project, Cocoon, to life. The project highlights our shared experience of the pandemic as well as the power of creative expression to inspire us. We congratulate American University of Sharjah students Nour Elbery, Marawan Mahmoud and Rashid Modibbo on this outstanding work.”


“The Christo Award offers the unique opportunity to young artists to create an artwork that, in the spirit of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s work, can be publicly exhibited and enjoyed. This year we witnessed how the artists responded to the uncertainty and challenging environment of this time, by using their creativity to design a Cocoon for humanity. Their proposal invites us to reflect on our shared experience of the pandemic. It is heartening to see how uncertainty and the unknown have led us to explore new ways of working, while changing the way we live, think, and act, and still, we find ways to create art.”

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

The winning artists have been awarded USD10,000 to complete their installation with the guidance of experts including the artists’ mentor, Architecture Professor at AUS Gregory Watson, Award’s Director Emily Doherty, The NYUAD Art Gallery team, NYUAD’s Visual Arts faculty, and the award team at ADMAF.   

Members of this year’s selection committee included ADMAF Founder H.E. Huda Ibrahim Alkhamis, NYUAD Interim Dean of Arts and Humanities Awam Amkpa, Director of Abu Dhabi Art Dyala Nusseibeh, and artist Azza Al Qubaisi.

The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award is open to UAE-based students and recent graduates and was established as a launch pad for visual artists across the Emirates, encouraging new artwork and offering winners an insight into professional life as an artist from commission to exhibition.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude made monumental works on a huge scale for over half a century, including the wrapping of The Reichstag in Berlin and The Gates in Central Park, New York. Their drawings are held by most major museums, galleries, and collections around the world, including Guggenheim New York, Tate London, and the Centre Pompidou Paris. The work is also held by many major corporate collections.

Christo was committed to supporting the next generation of artists and creative practitioners in the United Arab Emirates and The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award was established almost a decade ago, to cultivate creativity across the emirates.

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.