Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 21 September 2020

'Haweia': Installation exploring identity wins The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award 2020

The winning work, which means identity in Arabic, will be unveiled in November

Sara Mohamed and Laura AlDhahi present 'Haweia' to the Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award jury. Courtesy NYUAD
Sara Mohamed and Laura AlDhahi present 'Haweia' to the Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award jury. Courtesy NYUAD

Haweia, the winning artwork of this year's Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award, will be unveiled at NYU Abu Dhabi in November.

The sculptural installation, conceived by three architecture students from the American University of Sharjah, was announced as the award's winning submission on Wednesday, May 20.

The piece will be created by Sara Mohamed from Egypt, Laura AlDhahi from Kuwait and Sahil Rattha Singh from India, who have received $10,000 (Dh36,725) in prize money to complete their piece.

The students will work closely alongside professionals from NYUAD Art Gallery and Jason Carlow, associate professor at the American University of Sharjah’s department of architecture.

The installation, when finished, will have a smooth exterior facade of folded aluminium, contrasted with a complex interior of reflective surfaces and fins. It will allow visitors to look through a lens to "contemplate their inner selves" as they move around and inside the piece. Its title, Haweia, is taken from the Arabic word for "identity".

Sahil Rattha Singh from India is one of the three students behind 'Haweia'. NYUAD
Sahil Rattha Singh from India is one of the three students behind 'Haweia'. Courtesy NYUAD

The award, held under the patronage of Sheikha Shamsa bint Hamdan Al Nahyan, is in its eighth year, and presented by NYUAD in partnership with Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (Admaf).

The award's selection committee included Admaf founder Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo, NYUAD provost Fabio Piano, Abu Dhabi Art director Dyala Nusseibeh, artist Azza Al Qubaisi and guest juror Kevin Jones, founder of consultancy Juniper Mind.

"[The award] continues to be a vital part of the UAE’s creative sector by stimulating creativity and giving young artists the opportunity to carry projects through to full realisation with guidance from experts,” said Alkhamis-Kanoo in a statement.

Maya Allison, executive director of NYUAD Art Gallery, added: “I have been genuinely impressed by the resourcefulness and commitment of these artists, which have not faded with the arrival of the pandemic. This difficult time has created a challenging environment for art production, and yet, even as they finish their college year remotely, they have still managed to launch the project plan and production.

"Our team has set up videoconference mentoring, reviewing materials and plans. Thus, once again, The Christo Award process allows young artists to experience the real world of making a major project, including joining us in facing the great unknowns that can emerge at a time like this.”

Established in 2013, the Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award draws its name from artists Christo Javacheff and Jeanne-Claude Denat. The two, who were married until Jeanne-Claude’s death in 2009, worked with environmental and installation art, often using everyday materials such as plastic and fabric.

The award is open to students and recent graduates in the UAE.

After the unveiling of Haweia later this year, the installation will go on tour, to Abu Dhabi Art and the capital's Umm Al Emarat Park.

Updated: May 20, 2020 06:10 PM

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