Light Upon Light: Light Art Since the 1960s at Riyadh Art
March 18 – June 12, 2021
ACT Lecturer Lara Baladi’s work, Roba Vecchia (2007), is on view as part of the Light Upon Light: Light Art Since the 1960s Exhibition at Riyadh Art, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. This landmark exhibition explores light art from the 1960s to the present day.
Light Upon Light includes 30 masterworks of light art divided into four sectional “rays” that survey light as an artistic medium: “Perceiving Light,” “Experiencing Light,” “Projecting Light,” and “Environmental Light.” Each ray blends time and unites established artists of diverse geographic origin.
The new show Light Upon Light: Light Art since the 1960s – that includes key works by early pioneers Dan Flavin and James Turrell – is a ground-breaking event for culture in Saudi Arabia; it’s their first-ever exhibition of light art. Planning and executing a project of such a large scale in the middle of a pandemic constitutes a small miracle in itself, but I believe we are laying the groundwork for other historic exhibitions to come forward in Saudi Arabia.
As the former Senior Curator of the Guggenheim Museum, New York, I’ve had many challenges – but this was my first experience of curating a large exhibiting during the Covid outbreak. The show examines the theme of illumination as a primary aesthetic principle in art through 30 artworks from the 1960s to the present day. Highlights include Flanvin’s Untitled (to Sabine and Holger), 1966-71, of four red fixtures forming a square, and Turrell’s 1967 projection piece Afrum (Pale Pink), which casts a pink-hued basic geometric form to a darkened room, writes one of the curators, Susan Davidson.
From immersive installation to video and sculpture, visitors to Light Upon Light will experience a richly illuminated exhibition in all its spatial and sensory phenomena. This historical presentation of light art is a groundbreaking event for culture in Saudi Arabia.
The exhibition is curated by Susan Davidson, former Senior Curator of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, and Raneem Zaki Farsi, Curator, Art Advisor and an expert in Saudi Arabia’s contemporary art scene.
Lara Baladi is a Lebanese-Egyptian multidisciplinary artist, archivist, and educator whose practice spans photography, video, sculpture, architecture and multimedia installations. Informed by her critical investigations into historical archives and the study of popular visual culture, her work, exhibited internationally, questions the theoretical divide between myth and reality and the cycles inherent to history.
She won the Grand Nile Award at the Cairo Biennale (2008–9) for her ephemeral construction and sound installation Borg El Amal (Tower of Hope). In 2006 Baladi founded the artist residency Fenenin el Rehal (Nomadic Artists) in Egypt’s White Desert. For more than twenty years, she has been on the board of the Arab Image Foundation in Lebanon and the Townhouse Gallery of Contemporary Art in Egypt.
Under the umbrella Vox Populi, Baladi has amassed a significant archive of data on the 2011 Egyptian revolution and other global protests and social movements that has been the basis for publications, media initiatives and art installations which she exhibited in museum shows and biennials—including Transmediale, Berlin in 2016 and the Gwangju Biennial, South Korea, in 2018.
Baladi received fellowships from the Japan Foundation (2003) and MIT’s Open Documentary Lab (2014). She was an artist-in-residence at Art Omi (Ghent, New York, 2014), MacDowell (New Hampshire, 2015), and MIT (Ida Ely Rubin Artist in Residence, 2015) amongst others. For several years she has been a Lecturer in MIT’s Program in Art, Culture, and Technology. In 2020 she joined the Board of Directors of Artists Sanctum, a cultural initiative supporting artists whose work contributes to social change.