The 10 large-scale contemporary art installations of the Forever Is Now exhibition have been unveiled at the Pyramids of Giza.
Organised by consultancy Art d’Egypte, the show is running until Sunday, November 7, and is open to the public.
“This is the first art exhibition at the Pyramids in 4,500 years, so it’s a historic day,” Art d’Egypte founder Nadine Abdel Ghaffar said at a press conference on Thursday. “I want to welcome all the artists who believed in our story. It wasn’t an easy project. Each artist actively participated in this project, full-heartedly and genuinely."
The exhibition is being held under the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities and Tourism, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the patronage of Unesco.
Art d’Egypte has previously organised three exhibitions showcasing Egyptian contemporary art at heritage sites, at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square, Manial Palace Museum and on Al Muizz Street in Old Cairo.
Here are the 10 artists and artworks on show.
Alexander Ponomarev: 'Ouroboros'
Before he became an artist, Ponomarev spent years as a crew officer with the Russian Navy. In the past 30 years, he has staged more than 100 exhibitions and artistic projects, including in the Arctic, the Antarctic and the Sahara. For the 2009 Venice Biennale, he docked his artistic submarine in the Grand Canal.
His sculpture for Forever is Now is entitled Ouroboros, a symbol depicting a serpent or dragon eating its own tail that originated in Ancient Egyptian iconography.
Gisela Colon: 'Eternity Now'
Colon, who is Puerto Rican and lives in Los Angeles, uses high-tech materials such as optical acrylics and aerospace carbon fibre to create light-activated sculptures. Her works include Quantum Shift, currently on view at Frieze Sculpture 2021 in London’s Regent’s Park, and The Future Is Now at Desert X Al Ula 2020 in Saudi Arabia.
Eternity Now refers to a timeless moment, where past, present and future merge. The 30-foot-long golden elliptical dome is meant to evoke aspects of the sun god Ra and the Eye of Horus.
Joao Trevisan: 'Body That Rises'
Brazilian artist Trevisan uses waste materials, such as discarded railroad sleepers and iron scrap, to create structures.
Body That Rises is a seven-metre-high sculpture made of 74 wooden beams. “The piece is designed for the Giza plateau, and I’d like viewers to imagine that the shape echoes the framework of a large obelisk pointing skyward,” Trevisan said.
JR: 'Greetings From Giza'
French street artist and photographer JR is known for using famous public spaces to display his work, such as the Eiffel Tower, the Farnese Palace in Rome and the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence. He creates optical illusions with his black and white photographic collages, which are juxtaposed against reality.
Greetings from Giza shows a hand holding up a postcard in front of one of the Pyramids, making its top seemingly float in the air.
Lorenzo Quinn: 'Together'
Italian sculptor Quinn is known for his depiction of human emotions such as love and faith, most often through giant hands. His works include Support at the 2017 Venice Biennale, which features a child’s hands reaching up from the Grand Canal to hold up the facade of a 15th century palace. At the 2019 Venice Biennale, he installed Building Bridges, six pairs of hands individually titled Friendship, Faith, Help, Love, Hope and Wisdom.
Together, which features a male and female hand touching and framing the three Pyramids below them, was “a very complex structure to put together”, Quinn said. It consists of more than 36,000 welded coins, and took 25 people and nine months to make. It had to be transported in parts and reassembled on site.
Quinn said it is a “true honour” to have his work displayed at the Pyramids.
“It’s my first time in Egypt. If somebody would have told me, you’re going to go to Egypt and see the Pyramids and the first time you go, you’re actually going to have one of your sculptures in front of the Pyramids, I would have thought they were crazy,” Quinn said.
Moataz Nasr: 'Barzakh'
One of two Egyptian artists featured, Nasr broke on to the global art scene in 2001, when he won the Grand Prix at the eighth International Cairo Biennale. He has participated in various biennales around the world, including Venice, Seoul and Sao Paulo.
The word "barzakh" has many meanings, including the divide, barrier or purgatory. Nasr describes the barzakh as a “mental construct, an intangible entity that is understood but not witnessed, known but not realised”. His sculpture is inspired by the solar boat, constructed to carry the souls of pharaohs to the heavens.
Sherin Guirguis: 'Here I Have Returned'
The second Egyptian artist, Guiguis, was born in Luxor and currently lives in Los Angeles. She has had recent solo exhibitions at the Craft Contemporary museum in LA and the American University in Cairo. Her work was featured in Desert X 2017 and 2020.
Guirguis said her installation “honours the queens buried here”. She sought to tie ancient rituals with the feminists “who fought for us in the 1950s”, such as Doria Shafik and Hoda Sharawi.
Shuster & Moseley: '(Plan of the Path of Light) In the House of Hidden Places'
Claudia Moseley and Edward Shuster work with optics, geometry, light and glass in their installations. In 2020, the duo created Horizon of Day and Night, a permanent large-scale artwork commissioned for the Unesco World Heritage Site of Al Ula.
Their display of glass panels framing the Pyramids in the background links “the experience of the present to both the ancient world and our future technological landscape”, the artists said.
Stephen Cox: 'Khafre'
British sculptor Cox is known for his large works carved in stone. In 1988, he was commissioned by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office to produce a sculpture for the New Cairo Opera House. He procured stone from Egypt’s eastern mountains near Hurghada, specifically for the project.
The description of his sculpture Khafre reads: “A personal homage that exhibits the magnificence of Egyptian stone and reaches for the majesty of a sarcophagus on a scale and uniqueness fitting to the greatness of Khafre.”
The Pyramid of Khafre, an ancient Egyptian king of the fourth Dynasty, is the second-largest in Giza.
Sultan bin Fahad: 'R III'
Bin Fahad’s central theme is material culture in his native Saudi Arabia, but he also seeks to connect past with present. His work has been acquired by the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Palestine Museum and the Ithra Museum in Dhahran.
His sculpture for Forever Is Now is a maze of cubes with a hieroglyphic inscription belonging to King Ramses III engraved on the surface. The inscription was discovered by Saudi archaeologists in northern Saudi Arabia, the first to be found in the Arabian Peninsula. The project studies the roots of the civilisational relations between Egypt and Arabia.