Art D’Égypte launches its third edition bringing art to the pyramids

14 artists reflect on Egypt’s cultural legacy with site-specific sculptures and installations

The Pyramids of Giza backdrop the third edition of the ambitious desert art festival, Art D’Égypte, this month, bringing 14 artists to the monumental UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This year’s edition is called ‘Forever is Now III’ and features installations by local and international artists Arne Quinze, Arthur Lescher, Azza Al-Qubaisi, Carol Feuerman, Dionysios, Costas Varotsos, JR, Stéphane Breuer, Mohamed Banawy, Pilar Zeta, Rashid Al Khalifa, Rashed Al Shashai, Sabine Marcelis, Sam Shendi.

Artworks weave threads between ancient Egyptian history and modernity by delving into disparate themes such as AI, consumption and mysticism.

British-Egyptian artist Sam Shendi explores the legacy of Egyptian civilisation on the land with his ghostly work, ‘The Phantom Temple’. Shendi describes the bright red wire sculpture as a ‘vibrant reflections of the human condition,’ its form recalling the towering pillars and colonnaded halls of an ancient temple complex, like the one discovered by archaeologists working at the Hill of Pharaohs in the rural Kafr El Sheikh region.

Having built a pyramid-shaped for the festival last year, French Street artist JR returns to his series, Inside Out Giza 2022/23, producing giant, black-and-white portraits of people living in the local area.

Bahraini artist Rashid Al Khalifa has erected 12 golden pillars, etched with patterns inspired by The Tower of Babel, for his installation, Reality is Timeless. The slabs are constructed from steel and electroplated aluminium, brass and copper and arranged in a maze-like pattern, evoking both the ancient and sci-fi futurist folklore they are rooted in.

Rashid Al Khalifa, Reality is Timeless, 2023. Photography: Walaa Al Shaer / Art D’Egypte

Other highlights include Pilar Zeta’s Mirror Gate – a vibrant postmodern sculpture that feels equal parts Memphis and Star Gate – and Dutch artist Sabine Marcelis’ rumination on the sun, RA. The laminated solar glass sculpture acts as a sundial and a totemic nod to the Egyptian sun god, Ra, reflecting the desert surrounding its surface.

Several works encourage the viewer to ‘look again’, including Meditation on Light by Dionysios. His AI-designed gold-plated brass leaves reflect the light while blending almost entirely into the golden sands of the site. At the same time, Costas Varotsos’ Horizon explores the relationship between the Nile and the Giza Plateau with this piece, featuring a series of half-filled circles that make it appear like the pyramids are floating above water.

Art D’Égypte’s ‘Forever is Now III’ runs until 18 November 2023

Sam Shendi, The Ghost Temple, 2023. Photography: Walaa Al Shaer / Art D’Egypte
Pilar Zeta, Mirror Gate, 2023. Photography: Walaa Al Shaer / Art D’Egypte
JR, Inside Out Giza, 2022/2023. Photography: Walaa Al Shaer / Art D’Egypte
Stephan Breuer, TEMPLE •I• , 2023. Photography: Walaa Al Shaer / Art D’Egypte

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