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Indian artist Shilpa Gupta lights up the Saudi capital as part of Noor Riyadh, the Largest Light Art Festival in the World

High-res artwork and artist profile images

Saudi Arabia – Celebrated Indian artist Shilpa Gupta is captivating audiences from Saudi Arabia and global visitors with a spectacular artwork as part of Noor Riyadh 2023. The Largest Light Art Festival in the World returns to the Saudi capital under the theme “The Bright Side of the Desert Moon”. The citywide festival runs until December 16, 2023, complemented by an exhibition open until March 2, 2024.

Gupta has created the commissioned artwork We Change Each Other (2023) for Noor Riyadh. We Change Each Other is a monumental light installation whose text appears in various languages including Arabic, English and Hindi. This play on languages translates Gupta’s questioning of unity and amalgamation of cultures in a world where various human beings come into contact with each other. We Change Each Other reflects the artist’s interest in flux within interpersonal spaces, whether it be intergenerational or shaped by religion, politics or gender. By interweaving local languages in a poetic fashion, Gupta highlights the hegemonic power of language, its historical past and mutations.

Gupta lives and works in Mumbai. Through her practice, she addresses the different topics around which the discourse of today’s society revolve, provoking viewers to inspect one’s place in society. Her work reflects in particular on the emerging public sphere in India, taking account of the different social barriers that limit its full spread. The works seek to generate an empathetic understanding of the other.

Gupta’s work has been featured in several solo and group exhibitions, including at MAXXI, Rome, 2023; Dallas Contemporary, 2021; Ishara Art Foundation, Dubai, 2019; Venice Biennale, 2019; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, 2019; the Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2018; and Gwangju Biennale, 2018.

The Noor Riyadh festival is curated by Jérôme Sans, Pedro Alonzo, Alaa Tarabzouni and Fahad Bin Naif. It features more than 120 large-scale light art installations, building projections, performances and more by over 100 artists from more than 35 countries. The event also features more than 35 Saudi artists.

The accompanying Noor Riyadh exhibition, titled Refracted Identities, Shared Futures, is curated by Neville Wakefield and Maya Al Athel, and features the work of 32 artists from across the world exploring a multidimensional world of light.

Developed with the aim of nurturing local talent and amplifying Saudi Arabia’s cultural economy, Noor Riyadh is part of Riyadh Art, one of the largest public art initiatives in the world. Riyadh Art aims to transform the Saudi capital into a “gallery without walls”, with more than 1,000 public art installations, to be spread out across the city through 10 programs and two annual events.

Across its editions, Noor Riyadh has created unique moments of joy across the city and provided millions of visitors the opportunity to appreciate world-class light artworks, and rediscover the city of Riyadh in a new light. In 2022, Noor Riyadh celebrated multiple achievements, including welcoming 2.8 million visitors to the festival and winning six Guinness World Records, one of which being the largest celebration of light art in the world.

The third edition of Noor Riyadh opened on the back of the Saudi capital being elected as the host city of World Expo 2030. Riyadh will be only the second Arab city to host the Expo.

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