From October 21 to November 7 in Cairo Alexander Ponomarev — renown Russian-based artist, multiple participant of the Venice Biennale and the founder of The 1st Antarctic Biennale of Contemporary Art — with the support of Surface Lab Art Gallery, will present a 16-meter installation “Ouroboros”. The project will be part of the Forever is Now 2021 Biennale of Contemporary Art. It is the first exhibition to be held on the Giza plateau in the 4500-year history of the pyramids, and will showcase how Ancient Egypt remained the most important source of inspiration for artists throughout world history.
The installation “Ouroboros” by Alexander Ponomarev is an allusion to the “solar boats” found by archaeologists in pits at the foot of the Cheops pyramid. The rooks are separated by an hourglass-shaped two glass pyramids and a ceramic base depicting the famous emblem of the uroboros, a snake biting its tail.
On the initiative of Surface Lab Art Gallery there was created a ceramic panel depicting “Ouroboros” itself. The geoglyphic text, presented to the gallery by the Russian scientist and the head of the Nile Valley Archeology Center (Department of Oriental History, the Institute of Oriental Studies) Maxim Lebedev, gives the floor to the ancient Egyptians themselves. It tells us about their attitude to the great cycles of life and eternal journey, illustrates their hopes and prayers. On one hand, the panel tells about the views of the ancient people on the connection of the Sun with the life cycles on earth. On the other hand, it recalls the simple representatives of this great civilization, giving them what they most desired — the preservation of the memory of themselves.
“As a gallery that works with architectural projects we are incredibly honoured to take part in the Biennale which will link the most outstanding monuments of the world architecture with the works of key contemporary artists. We decided to integrate innovative printing technologies on ceramics, which are widely used in architecture, into this project. Thus together with the artist, we created the base of the metal installation — a ceramic panel with the Ouroboros snake and hieroglyphic texts”, comments Akhmet Kagirov, founder of the Surface Lab Art Gallery.
The Ouroboros installation is designed and manufactured in Russia, New Zealand and Egypt. The project is supported by Kerama Marazzi, an international ceramics market leader, and Surface Lab Art Gallery, which develops public art projects, integrates art into public spaces and develops art in architectural projects.
Alexander Ponomarev (1957, Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, USSR) graduated from the Oryol Art School in 1973 and the Naval Engineering School in Odessa in 1979, worked for several years as an officer of the sailing crew on various ships of the Russian Navy. Over the past thirty years he has organized over a hundred art projects and exhibitions. In 2007 he represented Russia at the 52nd Venice Biennale of Contemporary Art. In 2009 he moored his art submarine at the Ca’Foscari University on the Grand Canal as part of the 53rd Venice Biennale. Since 2000 he has been a member of a number of expeditions to Antarctica and the Arctic on scientific research vessels of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He is the founder of the Antarctic Biennale of Contemporary Art and the creation of the first supranational Antarctic pavilion in Venice. In 2017, he became Commissioner of the first ever The Antarctic Biennale of Contemporary Art under the patronage of UNESCO on the research vessel Akademik Sergei Vavilov. In 2014 Foreign Policy magazine named him one of the world’s leading thinkers. He is a member of the Russian Academy of Arts and was named the Officer of France’s Order of Arts and Letters.
Surface Lab Art is a Moscow-based gallery that integrates art into development and architecture. The gallery helps introduce contemporary art — painting, sculpture, installation, digital art, public art — into architectural projects through collaborations with developers, architectural, landscape and design bureaus. Surface Lab Art forms a community of artists, designers, architects, developers, manufacturers, who all together create conceptual and high-tech solutions that transform public spaces. One of the areas of work of Surface Lab Art is to support Russian artists on the Russian and international art scene.
The gallery was founded by Akhmet Kagirov, owner of the Surface Laboratory, a brand that produces ceramic slabs. One of the key missions of the brand is to support contemporary art by printing artists’ works on porcelain stoneware and glass of various formats and integrating them into facades, lobbies and private interiors. Surface Laboratory created the ceramic base for the “Ouroboros” installation.