For the First Contemporary Art Show at Egypt’s Pyramids, JR Transformed the Ancient Wonder Into a Partially Levitating Mass
Oct 21, 2021
For the first time in its 4,500-year history, the Great Pyramid of Giza—renowned as one of the most significant creations of the ancient world—is hosting a contemporary art show.
“Forever Is Now” is the name of the exhibition, made up of large-scale artworks installed along a trail leading up to the world’s wonders. The highlight is a new steel-and-mesh sculpture by French artist JR: it depicts a giant hand holding a postcard of one of the pyramids that, when viewed from the right angle, creates the illusion that the top of the ancient structure has separated from and is levitating above its base.
Gisela Colón, Alexander Ponomarev, and Lorenzo Quinn are also among the 10 international artists participating in the show, which is open to the public from today through November 7, 2021. (The robot artist Ai-Da’s inclusion was nearly blocked by customs officials who feared she was a spy.)
With support from the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and UNESCO, “Forever Is Now” was organized by Art D’Égypte, a private firm that—per the company’s own description—aims to “preserve Egypt’s heritage and advance the international profile of modern and contemporary Egyptian art.” The exhibition marks the firm’s fourth annual installation at an Egyptian heritage site since 2017 (with the exception of 2020).
Nadine A. Ghaffar, founder of Art D’Égypte, called the exhibition a “token of hope for humanity and a humble tribute to a civilization that stands the test of time.
“Egyptian culture is a gift to humanity, and the purpose of this exhibition is to showcase these treasures in a dialogue with the contemporary on an international scale,” she said in a statement. “Ancient Egypt has influenced artists from around the world, and so we bring the world to Egypt and Egypt to the world through art.”
In an Instagram post, JR explained that he was invited to participate in the Egypt show following his wildly popular installation at the Louvre in 2016. With his new sculpture, titled Greetings from Giza, the artist is also dipping a toe into the world of NFTs for the first time.
He cut the installation’s image file into 4,591 pieces—the approximate age of the pyramids—so that “each piece becomes one NFT,” he explained in a separate post. “The pieces are very similar to what my monumental installations look like from very close—black and white dots, a bit abstract—but then make sense when all assembled together.”
The artist added that he has hidden “743 hieroglyph rarities,” each with a secret message, throughout the collection. Registration for the NFTs opened today on a dedicated website, where they will soon sell for what appears to be $250 a pop.
In the meantime, see more images of the artworks in “Forever Is Now” below.