A note from the artists about their work:
“Haweia” is an Arabic word for identity. This installation was inspired by creating overlapping and consecutive curves that converge at an oculus, which accentuates a focused moment in time and space and is oriented to frame different perspectives of the sky.
Under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Shamsa Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan, Wife of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, The Christo & Jeanne-Claude Award 2020 is presented by New York University Abu Dhabi in partnership with Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation.
Read the essay
From the Director of The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award, Emily Doherty:
2020 has been a year of universal challenge. For our winning artist team, this has meant university campus closure, creating studios at home – sometimes internationally and apart from each other, communicating with the NYUAD Gallery team via Zoom, a delay in the public exhibition of their work and now the launch of their winning piece Haweia, in a virtual setting.
And yet to their great credit, these unusual circumstances have not deterred them. They have shown their mettle by leaning into the challenges and continuing to work remotely, intensively and with the support of their chosen mentor, Jason Carlow. Congratulations to them all.
In a further twist to the tale of 2020, we said a sad goodbye to Christo (1935 – 2020) himself; a profound loss to his family and friends, our Award community and of course, the wider world.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s relationship with the United Arab Emirates spanned forty years and it was Christo’s desire to support the emerging arts scene in 2012 that resulted in the creation of an Award in his name. In his eighties by then, he attended every unveiling of winning work until the year of his death. He met with winners, chatted over dinner, regaled those lucky enough to be within ear shot with wonderful tales of Marcel Duchamp and Andy Warhol in sixties New York and if it was a year in which he had a live project – Big Air Package, Germany (2013); The Floating Piers, Italy (2016); The London Mastaba (2018) – the winners would be invited to join him for a private tour. Bearing in mind that in its 16 day existence, The Floating Piers received 1.5 million visitors, this was an incredible privilege.
Christo sought to encourage a new generation of artists to find inspiration in creativity and bring joy to others, although it might be said that his true legacy was one of tenacity: in the pursuit of his vision, he never gave up – often over the the course of many years and in the face of profound opposition – and in the context of the past year, this will chime with many.
In every Award year since 2012, I seek to thank those who have made this project possible – often in a speech at the official unveiling of work on campus at NYUAD. In a year in which the arts, globally, have been suffocated by COVID-19, efforts to create forums for creative work have become essential. Portals for artists are antidotes to the monotony of lockdown, border closures and cultural suppression and as such I’d like to champion our teams of enablers here.
Thank you, very much to:
H.E. Huda I. AlKhamis-Kanoo, Abdallah Haidar, and Georgia Chambers at the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation. Maya Allison, Tala Nassar, Hala Saleh, Kimberly Moinette, Tyler Lewis, Sebastian Grube, Alaa Edris, Melroy D’Souza, and Maisoon Mubarak at New York University Abu Dhabi. And, of course, to dearest Christo.
Laura AlDhahi is a recent architecture graduate from the American University of Sharjah, born and raised in Kuwait.Read more
She perceives Haweia as a metaphysical reflection of identity in terms of personal growth and self-realization. Laura strives to address local issues and provide solutions to an evolving city through sustainable architecture in parallel to the production of cultural narratives. Her work also concentrates on diminishing the threshold between vernacular construction and contemporary design through cross-disciplinary studies and digital technology.
It’s an honor to be part of this journey that will bring our design to life with the help of my group members and our mentor, Professor Jason Carlow.
Sara Mohamed is an Egyptian architect who recently graduated from the American University of Sharjah.Read more
Through studying architecture, Sara has found her passion in detail design, exploring spatial relationships, and form making through physical and digital modeling. She believes that innovative ideas are born through patience and discovery driven by an intent to unravel novel outcomes. In addition to the Christo Award, Sara took part in a two-semester design build project and the Abu Dhabi Heat Island challenge.
This award has been a special experience because it is one of the few opportunities where the winners are given the chance to work within a professional arts context, with the support of experts in their field. It has consistently tested and exercised our abilities to think on the spot, prepare backup plans and backups of the backups. When we applied for this award, I knew we would face multiple challenges from day one, but the added virtues of home quarantine, virtual learning, and Zoom conferences took our efforts and struggles to a whole new level. The cultural diversity within our group and context was the major inspiration behind this project. The design’s reflective outside shell signifies the coherence of our context, yet the inside reflects its diversity. The piece celebrates all the different identities out there: it’s for everyone to observe, imagine, and reflect. We are honored and grateful for such an opportunity that’ll allow us to materialize our vision into built work.
Sahil Rattha Singh is an Indian artist and an undergraduate architecture student currently enrolled at the American University of Sharjah.Read more
He is interested in bringing conceptually and theoretically motivated architecture into physical constructions through parametric modeling, digital visualization, and the application of advanced fabrication techniques. He is also greatly influenced and intrigued by ecological sustainability while striving to achieve a sense of equilibrium between social, contextual and performative aspects of his work.
Haweia is an amalgamation of art and architecture. We began working on the piece in my second year Architecture studio at the American University of Sharjah with the help of faculty and staff at CAAD, and this would not have been possible without them and our mentor Professor Jason Carlow. Seeing the work come to life during a global pandemic and its challenges has been an amazing experience. It is truly an honor to receive the prestigious Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award.
Project team mentor, Jason Carlow is Associate Professor at the American University of Sharjah where he teaches architecture and interior design courses.Read more
His design work, research and teaching are centered on the relationship between digital and traditional modes of drawing, modeling and fabrication. His work has focused on using digital design and fabrication as a lens to investigate building typologies, building component systems, and compact interior spaces related to dense, urban environments. He holds a B.A. in Visual and Environmental Studies from Harvard University and a Master of Architecture from Yale University.
Being part of this team from the concept design to the final fabrication of the artwork has been a very rewarding experience for me. The team of artists proved their determination to the project in working remotely, across three different countries during the final development of the artwork. The award has given them a remarkable experience and has yielded a wonderful and thought provoking sculpture.