Mitochondria: Powerhouses at Noor Light Festival 2021

Kafd, Wadi Corridor
Noor Light Festival, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
March 18 - April 3 2021

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© Abdullah Alshehri

For Noor Riyadh 2021, commissioned by the Royal Commission for Riyadh City (RCRC) as a Riyadh Art program, Ahmed Mater collaborated with Factum Arte to develop the concepts he began to explore in 2017 with his piece Mitochondria: PowerhousesThe site-specific installation was composed of a 2 million volt Tesla coil, capable of electrical discharges of up to 2m, surrounded by six sculptures produced by Factum Arte resembling fulgurite - vitrified sand that naturally forms when lightning hits the ground. 

In this iteration, the artwork was presented for the first time in an outdoor setting, which involved careful planning to ensure the layout of the installation met both the safety requirements and the artistic vision behind the work. The attendees could see the installation from a safe distance, protected by a fence. Placed in a central position over a circular area covered in sand, the Tesla coil discharged into the fulgurite sculptures, simulating a lightning storm in a desert environment. 

© Abdullah Alshehri

Among the differences from the previous 2017 installation of the Tesla coil at the Galleria Continua in San Gimignano, were some improvements in the control boxes and additional safety measures taking into account the outdoor public space, allowing for fast intervention from the festival operators. Factum Arte's engineering team conducted several tests and simulations in the workshops, taking into account climate differences between Riyadh and Madrid, before installing the piece during the first week of March 2021.

Tesla coil during testing in Factum Arte's workshop © Oak Taylor Smith for Factum Arte

Tesla coil during testing in Factum Arte's workshop © Oak Taylor Smith for Factum Arte

Detail of the Tesla coil © Quinner Baird for Factum Arte

Detail of the fulgurite sculpture (without the copper wires installed to redirect lightning) © Oak Taylor Smith for Factum Arte

Ahmed Mater Mitochondria: Powerhouses, 2017 Tesla coil machine. Courtesy the artist and GALLERIA CONTINUA. Photo © Riyadh Art 2021

Team: Quinner Baird and Carlos Sanjuan (Caliper)

Noor Riyadh is a citywide festival of light and art commissioned by Riyadh Art, March 18 – April 3, 2021, 
Light Upon Light: Light Art since the 1960s exhibition at King Abdullah Financial District Conference Center (KAFD), Riyadh, has been commissioned by Riyadh Art, March 18 – June 12, 2021, 

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