Life, Death, Light: Emilio Ferro’s Portal of Light at Giza

The monumental Pyramids of Giza play host to Italian artist Emilio Ferro’s lighting installation that strives to bridge time and space

Words Studio Emilio Ferro
Images Roberto Conte


Editor’s note: What follows is an edited press release from Studio Emilio Ferro

Portal of Light by Emilio Ferro
Group exhibition ‘Forever is Now II’, Giza Plateau, Egypt
27 October – 30 November 2022

From October 27 to November 29, 2022, Emilio Ferro presents “Portal of Light,” a site-specific temporary installation conceived by the light artist for ‘Forever Is Now II’, the major exhibition organized by Culturvator/Art D’Égypte in the shadow of the Pyramids. On the outskirts of Cairo, the archaeological site of Giza, a UNESCO world heritage site, becomes a place for experimentation and dialogue between generations and cultures. Emilio Ferro uses light, sound, and sculpture to articulate a unique artistic experience and to draw a path capable of traversing history and space. The site-specific installation “Portal of Light” explores the imagery of Ancient Egypt through a reflection on the themes of threshold and light: the first, as a bridge between the world of the living and the world of the dead; the second, as an element to which the cult of the sun, worshipping deities such as Isis and Ra, is associated with.

Inspired by two ancient papyri, the Book of the Dead and the Book of Amduat, “Portal of Light” develops following the orientation of the cardinal points and the changing of the sunlight during the day. Two metal structures follow the perfect inclination of the three pyramids of Giza: the first guards the illuminating body and generates a beam of light capable of passing through the second portal, extending its ray for hundreds of meters.

At night, spectators will be able to enter the installation, under the beam of light, following its direction: an immersive adventure to experience the journey of the god Ra in his boat through the night sky, as illustrated in the ancient papyri.

The work can also be enjoyed during daylight hours, designed considering the path of the sun furthermore, natural light will thus replace the artificial light that illuminates and characterizes the work during the night, while a metal line positioned on the ground crosses the two structures for twenty meters and indicates the line to be followed during the day.

To complete the installation, the artist created a sound intervention after recording the wind blowing on the Giza Plateau; Emilio Ferro sampled its sound to compose the soundtrack that embraces his work. Directional speakers, integrated into the structures, modulate the visitor’s experience and create an additional narrative level that, thanks to the essential force of light, cuts through the surrounding architectural and natural space, triggering a new confrontation between art, landscape, and history. Portal of Light is part of the group exhibition ‘Forever Is Now II’, organized by Culturvator/Art D’Égypte, in collaboration with UNESCO and the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.

Against the backdrop of the Pyramids of Giza, the last remaining of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the project brings together the works of 12 international artists including Emilio Ferro, JR, eL Seed and SpY and Jwan Yosef. A universal cultural heritage confronted with contemporary artistic practices: “Forever Is Now II” explores themes from the distant past to the present, to dream about the future of humanity. •

About Emilio Ferro
Emilio Ferro is an Italian artist born in 1988. In his works, he mixes light, sound, and visual arts, creating light art installations for public spaces, museums, and foundations. A poetic vision that, from the contemplation of the natural landscape, translates into projects capable of distorting the viewer’s perception of reality, through clever use of innovative technical elements, to create a new artistic experience, harmonic and absolute.

About Art D’Égypte by Culturvator
Art D’Égypte is part of Culturvator, a multi-disciplinary cultural platform that works with private and public entities to activate spaces for cultural promotion across all creative disciplines, spanning everything from visual arts and film to heritage, design, and music.

Art D’Égypte’s flagship event is its iconic yearly exhibition in a historic Egyptian location to shed light on the country’s cultural heritage and connect the art of Egypt’s past with that of the 21st century. By raising awareness, Art D’Égypte’s target is to help preserve Egypt’s heritage and advance the international profile of modern and contemporary Egyptian art, presenting an alternative view of Egypt to the world.

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