People visit a pyramid-shaped artwork during ‘Forever Is Now’ exhibition held at the Giza Pyramids complex in Giza, Egypt, on Oct. 27, 2022. (Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa)
by Mahmoud Fouly
CAIRO, Oct. 30 (Xinhua) — Against the backdrop of the three great pyramids of Giza and their plateau, an open-air art exhibition featuring a dozen contemporary art installations is being held in the southwest of Cairo, Egypt.
The “Forever Is Now” exhibition aims to combine the ancient history and cultural heritage represented in the pyramids with contemporary art, establishing a link between past, present and future.
One of the installations is a six-meter-tall unfinished obelisk by Emirati conceptual artist Zeinab Alhashemi. Made of stainless steel and camel skins, the obelisk symbolizes the well-known ancient unfinished obelisk located in Aswan in Upper Egypt.
Another piece is “Secrets of Time” by Tunisian artist eL Seed. The work consists of a curtain of ropes suspended in the shape of a door surrounded by an iron frame, on which there was a quote from the late Egyptian novelist Radwa Ashour in Arabic calligraphy: “Time does not reveal its secrets to humanity”.
Photo shows the artwork “Pantheon of Deities” by Egyptian artist Therese Antoine during the “Forever Is Now” exhibition held at the Giza pyramids complex in Giza, Egypt on October 27, 2022. (Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa)
EL Seed explained that his work is intended to celebrate the mystery and grandeur of the Giza pyramids, the construction of which remains a secret until today.
“The piece is meant to provide a new experience, because anyone can open this curtain of strings and rediscover the pyramids in a new way,” el Seed told Xinhua near his work.
“The pyramids in the background are more important than the work of art. The background gives value to the work. My work will perish while the pyramids will remain”, added the Tunisian artist.
Not far from el Seed’s work, a work by Spanish artist SpY titled “ORB: Under the Same Sun” features a four-meter-diameter ball, or orb, made of chrome steel with safety glass mirrors reinforced reflecting the pyramids, the sky and the surroundings.
A little further on, a three-part work by Jwan Yosef, a Swedish-Syrian painter and artist, depicts a huge 3D figure of the artist’s own face sinking into the sand, with only the nose, lips and the chin emerging from the sand and facing the sky.
The limestone artwork, “Vital Sands”, takes a new approach to the traditional self-portrait genre by depicting immersion in the healing sands of time.
Yosef said he was having a conversation with “one of the oldest and most iconic landmarks in the world” through his article.
People visit the artwork ‘ORB: Under the Same Sun’ by Spanish artist SpY during ‘Forever Is Now’ exhibition held at the Giza Pyramids complex in Giza, Egypt, on Oct. 27, 2022. (Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa)
“To have this dialogue with your own work is just amazing, and to be able to portray that it’s just an amazing experience,” he added.
“Forever Is Now” is organized by the company Art D’Egypte, an Egyptian platform dedicated to art and heritage, under the auspices of the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. international (UNESCO).
The month-long event kicked off on October 27 and will remain open to visitors until the end of November, featuring works by artists from 11 countries, including Saudi Arabia, Italy, Cameroon and France.
Chief organizer Nadine Abdel-Ghaffar, also founder of Art From Egypt, said this year’s exhibition is different because it precedes Egypt’s hosting of the 27th session of the Conference of the Parties ( COP 27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate. Switch, noting that a few of the artworks here also feature environmental sustainability.
“Each year, Art D’Egypte organizes an exhibition of local art at a different archaeological site. But when it comes to the pyramids, we thought we should invite the whole world to participate, not just Egyptian artists,” said she declared.
“It gave greater influence to the event because each foreign artist acts as an ambassador of Egypt at home,” the organizer told Xinhua.
Photo shows the artwork ‘Spirit of Hathor’ by British-American artist Natalie Clark during the ‘Forever Is Now’ exhibition held at the Giza pyramids complex in Giza, Egypt on October 27 2022. (Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa)
In her work entitled “Pantheon of Deities”, Egyptian artist Thérèse Antoine sculpted five marble columns representing obelisks referring to important deities of the Old Kingdom of ancient Egypt. At the top of each column is the symbol of the deity, in stainless steel or iron.
Meanwhile, British-American artist Natalie Clark presents a piece titled “Spirit of Hathor”, referring to the goddess of the sky, women, fertility and love in ancient Egypt. The installation shows two pairs of interlocking horns in Corten steel, the two upper horns holding the marble sun. The piece represents “divine, feminine female empowerment” as Clark puts it.
Visitors were impressed with the outdoor exhibit surrounding the Giza pyramids.
“I think it’s great to combine classic buildings and elements from the ancient past with modern art. And I think it really enriches both rooms,” 22-year-old Dutch tourist Fenna told Xinhua. Visser, adding that such an event helps visitors learn more about Egyptian culture and history. ■