Forever Is Now is a contemporary art exhibition that brings together the work of artists from all over the world for a one-of-a-kind opportunity to contemplate the wonders of an ancient civilisation through the eyes of today’s artists’ interests and passions. The exhibition, which is based in the 4500-year-old UNESCO World Heritage site of the Pyramids of Giza and the adjacent plateau, explores time as a continuum that both divides and connects civilisations. The contrast of cherished cultural history with a broad array of modern art practices is intended to trace the continuity of ideas from the legendary past to the vibrant present, and to be inspired for humanity’s future.
Art D’Égypte has spread the artworks across the Giza Plateau’s path, with every consideration for the protection of the heritage site. The land is protected by a layer of sand and tarpaulin which ensure the artworks don’t touch or disturb the grounds of the heritage site. Art D’Égypte also works closely with UNESCO to support and raise awareness of public-school children of how to protect heritage sites.
Here’s a tour through the exhibition.
BARZAKH, 2021. Wood and metal, 14 m x 4 m
Not built to navigate earthly waters, the sun boat, or solar barque, was carefully constructed to carry the soul of the pharaoh and the justified through to the heavens. It was the vessel gliding between two worlds, able to pass through the liminal space dividing, yet connecting two modes of existence. The barque took the human soul into the realm of the gods through the same divide the gods themselves use to travel back and forth from the world of the living. This oneness between two realms, divided, yet connected through a liminal space, is not dissimilar from what Ibn Arabi would later describe as the barzakh. The barzakh, or the divide, is a mental construct, an intangible entity that is understood but not witnessed, known but not realized. It is a presence between two platforms that resides intellectually, not physically, pertaining to its unique nature.
The barzakh is susceptible to all manner of paradoxical traits, assembling contradictory pairs. Given that Ibn Arabi believed in a primary duality between the deity and the universe; the only median capable of receiving both sides within itself is the illusion of the barzakh.
The connection between them is not that of separation, but rather one that represents two sides to one truth/reality; what connects them is the connected part of the disconnected whole.
OUROBOROS, 2021, Steel, ceramic, glass, sand, 4.3 m x 16.7 m x 2.5 m
The pyramids are connected to the cosmos where the globe of the earth flies and where the River Kronos closes in the Okeanos and the serpent Ouroboros consumes its tail!
After the discovery of blood circulation by William Harvey in 1628 — and within each person the river of time closes — it is the blood that gives rise to the idea of a substance that turns within itself. Water, the blood of the planet that makes up Okeanos, circulates everywhere.
‘The serpent, called Okeanos or Kronos, which surrounds us from all sides, is the image and guarantee of the psychological existence of man. As Jung has repeatedly pointed out, we are in the cocoon of the soul, the psyche that surrounds us on all sides, and this is the nature of what encloses us — the nature of the soul. The same idea is well known in antiquity. When Pythagoras was asked who the serpent Cronus was, he replied — the psyche of the universe.‘
— Wolfgang Giegerich
ETERNITY NOW, 2021. Engineered aerospace carbon fibre with gold particles, 2.43 m x 9.14 m x 1.82 m
The site-specific installation, Eternity Now, embodies a timeless moment, where past, present, and future merge on the historic 4500-year-old UNESCO site of the Great Pyramids of Giza. The 30-footlong golden elliptical dome pays tribute to the deep historic legacy of ancient Egypt, known as a birthing site or ‘cradle’ of ancient culture. The monumental sculpture is informed by the astounding volumes of knowledge acquired by the ancient Egyptians spanning the fields of astronomy, science, mythology, art, architecture, and sacred geometries. The installation’s formal geometric aspects embody the mythical shape of the sun god Ra’s glowing orb: the venerable chroma of gold being omnipresent in Egyptian symbolism and ritualism. The dome’s elliptical curvatures reference the Eye of Horus, the mystical mind’s eye or third oculus, a form of mythological geometry symbolising healing, protection, and rebirth. Speaking a fundamental and universal language, Eternity Now envisions a future of humanistic solidarity, reconciliation, and interconnectedness.
BODY THAT RISES, 2021. 74 pieces of wood, 7 m x 2 m x 2 m
Body That Rises is a 7m-high sculpture built from 74 wood beams stacked to form a rising, square grid. ‘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.’
The project includes a vertically mounted structure that points to the Egyptian sky, a sculpture for viewing on the Giza Plateau in Forever Is Now. The material used is Trevisan’s signature material: wood railroad sleepers, and in doing so, engages Egypt’s immediate past — the train tracks laid down in the nineteenth century. And in their pure vertical form the vertical columns of both proposals directly reference skyward-pointing obelisks of the ancient past.
GREETINGS FROM GIZA, 2021. Scaffolding, mesh, 5.58 m x 3.6 m
JR leaves the space empty for an encounter between the subject/protagonist and the passer-by/interpreter. That is what JR’s work is about: raising questions …
TOGETHER, 2021. Stainless steel rods, 6 m x 10.33 m x 5.754 m (excl. base)
‘One of the reasons I chose to be a sculptor is for its longevity. The idea of possibly being able to communicate with future generations through the art I leave behind has always mesmerized me. Art has the ability to cheat death and to make you immortal. When I was approached with the possibility of exhibiting one of my sculptures in front of humanity’s most glorious timeless creations, it was a dream come true. I also realized it was a daunting task because no artist on earth today can equal the beauty and perfection of the magnificent ancient Egyptian pyramids.
I decided to create a site-specific sculpture that would hopefully not interfere with the surroundings but somehow support their majestic timeless beauty, a sculpture that would outline the human connection throughout time.’
Humans are obsessed with time and yet there are places on earth where time stands still. COVID-19 has frozen time temporarily in the way we interact with each other. This relationship between human-time and earth-time is made even more relative at the site of the Great Pyramids of Giza where time is frozen. There is a strong desire to unfreeze our time during which we have longed for that human touch while the world came together under a single umbrella. We missed an essential part of what makes us human. Together wishes to represent that timeless human emotional journey in the place on earth where time has become relative as a testimonial to living the moment.
HERE I HAVE RETURNED, 2021. Wood, paint, gold leaf, metal, 9.8 m x 3.6 m x 0.61 m
Here I Have Returned is a large-scale, site-specific, sculptural monument and homage to the long history of women who have lifted and supported Egyptian society and culture over time. The sculpture’s form is inspired by that of an ancient sistrum, a sacred musical instrument used by the priestesses of Isis during healing and cleansing rituals and processions. Engraved with pharaonic-inspired patterns and excerpts from a poem by Egyptian poet Doria Shafik, the piece rises from the sand, calling upon us to recall the power and labour of these women. Visitors will be invited to activate the cymbals on the sculpture creating a sense of call and response from the present to the past and back. An echo through time, a remembrance of this history and an invitation to connect those narratives to our present. The sculpture will be embedded with the scent of Jasmine oil sourced from local Egyptian farms and celebrating the work of the women who harvest the delicate flowers.
The sculpture is both shelter and monument – a site of interaction with the pyramids, the community, and the visitors from all over the world. The sound and fragrance will act as an ethereal echo of rituals performed here many centuries ago. Serving as both a remembrance of history and an invitation to connect these narratives to the present, the work sets out to make the invisible work of historically under-recognized women visible once more.
SHUSTER + MOSELEY
(Plan of the Path of Light)
In the House of the Hidden Places, 2021. Hand-bonded optical glass, steel base
Glyph 1 – 1.618 m x 2.591 m x 0.809 m
Glyph 2 – 2.094 m x 3.667 m x 1.777 m
Glyph 3 – 1.753 m x 1.570 m x 1.468 m
Glyph 4 – 1.000 m x 1.618 m x 1.175 m
The work counterbalances expressions of geometric form and measure that are aligned to celestial points and stellar horizons, creating a kind of optical clockwork that reveals itself in an ever-shifting paradigm of illuminated planes. It interfaces between the viewer and the cosmos, with shapes counterpoised to create glyphic expressions of im/materiality, balanced on the terrestrial horizon but activated by the path of the sun and stars.
Behind the abstract simplicity of the forms is a matrix of symbolic angles, measures and orientations, each carefully encoded with significations inspired by the optico-geometric magic of the Great Pyramid. The glass itself, whilst reflecting a future oriented aesthetic reminiscent of technological interfaces and contemporary architectures, in fact becomes like a timeless spiritual medium, suspended between materiality and transparency; the visible and the invisible.
The work intends to create a kind of interdimensionality by opening up these screenic interfaces, linking the experience of the present to both the ancient world and our future technological landscape.
STEPHEN COX RA
INTERIOR SPACE: KHAFRE, 2021. Granite, 2 m x 4.8 m x 2.4 m
‘A theme in my sculpture for many years was inspired by the Tombs of the Apis Bulls at Saqqara. These massive monolithic granite boxes fitted in with my ‘minimalist’ aesthetic, however, their power was layered with highly evocative meaning.
Contemporary industrial processing enabled me, here in Cairo, to devise a method of producing sarcophagal forms of great size that exhibited the magnificence of Egyptian stone initially from the Eastern Mountains that were the source of rare porphyry and breccia.
This new work directed at an engagement with Chephren that began some 15 years ago in a quest for the source of the stone of his famous funerary statue. The work realised here is not made with that material but with the material of his sarcophagus – granite from Aswan – found within his pyramid.
My sculpture for Forever Is Now is a personal homage that reaches for the majesty of a sarcophagus of a scale and uniqueness appropriate to this great builder.’
SULTAN BIN FAHAD
R III, 2021. Galala classic marble, copper, 10.5 m x 6.3 m
Saudi archaeologists discovered a hieroglyphic inscription belonging to King Ramses III, one of the kings of ancient Egypt, in the Zaydania area of Tayma Governorate in northern Saudi Arabia. This inscription is the first hieroglyphic inscription found in the Arabian Peninsula; it is on a fixed rock and bears the royal signature. The path to the discovery is marked with cartouches (royal signatures) of King Ramses III, and its presence near Tayma raised the question of civilisational context that could explain a cartouche deep in the northwest of the Arabian Peninsula.
The concept is to construct a maze of cubes with the inscription of Ramses III engraved on the surface. Copper will be used, which was acquired through missions to the Arabian Peninsula. This project will constitute a turning point in studying the roots of the civilisational relations between Egypt and Arabia.
The info is extracted from the catalogue and the press release.
The exhibition is on view until the 7th of November