Winning Entry Announced for The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award 2017

A portrait of NYUAD Alumna Anna Kurkova who won the annual Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award.

Press Release

Sculptural installation inspired by desert environment wins prestigious annual award

Under the patronage of H.H. Sheikha Shamsa bint Hamdan Al Nahyan, NYU Abu Dhabi, in partnership with Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF), has announced NYU Abu Dhabi alumna and current graduate student at La Sorbonne, Anna Kurkova, as the winner of the fifth edition of The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award.

The winning submission, titled DUNESCAPE, will be unveiled on Wednesday, April 26 and will be on display until Thursday, May 11 at the NYU Abu Dhabi Campus. DUNESCAPE is a sculptural installation that merges modernist architecture with the natural beauty of the desert, exploring 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.

Professor Eric Fouache, vice chancellor at Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi said: “We are very proud of our students who demonstrate talent and limitless capacities on many different levels. Thus, The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award is a great innovative platform that provides students with an opportunity to further explore their creativity potential. It is such a pleasure for us to be represented in this award by one of our own, the very talented master’s student Anna Kurkova who is enrolled in the History of Art & Museum studies program.”

H.E. Hoda Al Khamis-Kanoo, founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF) says: “Since its launch in 2013, 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. Year after year, it has challenged emerging artists to push the boundaries of artistic expression and intellectual exploration in the most fascinating directions. The applications received for the Award’s fifth edition this year were extremely impressive in terms of both concept and vision. I congratulate all those who were shortlisted and look forward to following the development of Anna Kurkova’s sculptural installation, DUNESCAPE.”

His Highness Sheikh Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi, renowned writer and a guest member of the selection committee this year, said: "The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award is an opportunity to acknowledge some of the best young artistic talents as well as their mentors and the institutions that have provided them with support. Since its inception five years ago, The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award has become one of the most important art competitions in the region."

Members of the permanent selection committee for the award are, His Excellency Zaki Nusseibeh, NYUAD Provost Fabio Piano, ADMAF Founder Her Excellency Hoda Al Khamis-Kanoo, and artist Azza Al Qubaisi.

Award Director Emily Doherty, said: “In this our fifth year of The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award, the quality of the applications we are now seeing is extraordinary. We are delighted for Anna and are looking forward to working with her to now realise the proposed artwork, to be unveiled in Christo's presence at NYUAD in April. We hope, as always, that the commission to exhibition process will be a great experience for Anna and provide a platform from which to launch her professional career.”

Shortlisted entries included projects from American University of Sharjah titled Tempus, Tannoura, Celestial Cupola and Wihda – Unity. The five finalist entries were selected for their inspirational creativity, reflecting the aim of the annual award to encourage young artists to hone their visionary passion into a tangible project from which they may launch a career in the arts. The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award 2017 was open to UAE residents and full-time students who are currently in higher education institutions or have graduated in the past five years.

Below is a full list of the 2017 award winning entries, student names and mentors:

Winning entry:
NYU Abu Dhabi / La Sorbonne
DUNESCAPE — Anna Kurkova
Mentor — David Darts

Runners up:

American University of Sharjah
TEMPUS — Indrajith Aravinda Gamage, Abdurrahman Baru
Mentor — Patrick Rhodes

American University of Sharjah
TANNOURA - Nishita Vinodrai, Nouran Sharaf El Deen, Sima Mounia
Mentor — Gregory Spaw

American University of Sharjah
CELESTIAL CUPOLA — Amer Madhoun, Sara Halawi
Mentor — Ammar Kalo

American University of Sharjah
WIHDA - UNITY — Mohammad Abualhuda, Raghad Alali, Mohammad Rowaizak
Mentor — Camilo Cerro


About the NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery

The NYUAD Art Gallery is an academic museum-gallery that presents curated exhibitions of art and material culture across historical and contemporary topics, with a special emphasis on subjects of both regional concern and international significance. Through focused exhibitions, events, and publications, the NYUAD Art Gallery serves as a catalyst and locus of intellectual and creative activity, linking the University with the Abu Dhabi public and a worldwide community of artists, curators, and scholars.

About Christo and Jeanne-Claude

For half a century, internationally acclaimed artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude have created highly celebrated works of art around the world. Together, they changed the concept of “public art” by creating temporary works that are truly transitory by design. Jeanne-Claude passed away in November 2009, but Christo continues with their work on Over The River, as well as other projects.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude have never accepted any subsidies, royalties, grants, or sponsorships. They fund all of their temporary public works, and the artists’ income is derived from the sale of original works of art by Christo to museums, galleries, and private collectors. For more information, visit


The Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation seeks to nurture the arts, education, culture and creativity for the benefit of society and the advancement of Abu Dhabi’s cultural vision. The Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation under the patronage of His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development. It was established in 1996 by Her Excellency Hoda Al Khamis-Kanoo. ADMAF’s broad range of initiatives — including the Abu Dhabi Festival, year-round education and community programmes and The Nationals’ Gallery - brings together audiences of all ages and nationalities. Through them, it nurtures the creative talent of the UAE and beyond, in partnership with leading national and international institutions.

For more information please visit our website at:

About Jeanne and Christo

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.