French artist JR reveals next project will take place at Egypt's Pyramids of Giza

The artist will present his unique work, which blends photography, graffiti and installation art, to Cairo in October

French artist JR – famous for installing giant black-and-white trompe l’oeil in public places – has revealed that his next project will be at the Pyramids of Giza in Cairo.

JR made the announcement on Instagram with a picture of himself on horseback with the pyramids in the background.

“Proud to announce my next project at the Pyramids in October 2021,” he wrote, saying the artwork “might be a photo collage”. It appears that the artist visited the site in April this year.

The work is a commission by Art D’Egypte, a company organising a major contemporary art exhibition titled Forever is Now at the site of the pyramids that is planned to open in October.

Art D’Egypte’s founder, Nadine Abdel Ghaffar, is working with independent curator Simon Watson to select artists for the show and Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass to map the trail where the artworks might be installed across the Giza Plateau.

It won’t be the first time that JR has presented work in the region. In 2011, the artist brought his Inside Out project to the UAE. Setting up a colossal photo booth in Manarat Al Saadiyat, JR allowed visitors to have their portraits taken and A1 posters of it printed for free, after which they could paste the image outside the centre or wherever they chose.

For his projects, JR often creates large-scale optical illusions by installing images over landmarks or structures. His most recent creation is at the site of the Eiffel Tower, where the image makes it seem as though the Parisian landmark is perched on top of a canyon or ravine.

Among his most well-known is a 2019 work, where he pasted 2,000 strips of paper around the Louvre Pyramid, so it appeared to be emerging from a crater.

The collaboration, which involved the help of hundreds of volunteers and asked the public to tear off pieces of the paper strips, was created for the 30th anniversary of the glass and metal structure designed by IM Pei.

The artist has also completed projects that engage with local communities, such as the 2017 work Migrants, Picnic across the border wherein a pair of eyes – a monochrome photograph of a young undocumented immigrant in the US – stretched from the cities of Tecate, Mexico to Tecate, California.

More than the photo, it also served as a picnic table, where visitors on either side of the border could gather and eat together despite the wall between them.

The community intervention followed an earlier installation from that year, which showed a toddler named Kikito peering over border fence towards the US.

Details on JR’s work for the Forever is Now exhibition are still scant, though it will likely bear the artist’s signature elements of his monochromatic palette and dramatic use of scale.

Updated: June 2, 2021 04:54 PM

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