49″ x 49″
created from “The Egyptian Book of the Dead”
The Egyptian book of the dead is a mysterious and beautiful document, containing complex interactions of myth, ritual and magic. The rich imagery contained within it is derived from the daily life and natural world of Egypt. The text and images are concerned with the afterlife and the passage of the human into the next world. “The Egyptians lived in a world of allusions” Helmut Brunner. The purpose of the book was to assist the mortal in the next world and to illustrate the necessity of a virtuous life in the present. The book describes what happens when a person leaves the ordered world of the living and confronts the chaos of the world beyond the physical form. As in the world above there was in this underworld also a duality, the chthonic netherworld was presided over by Osiris, Lord of Resurrection and the solar/astral existence in which the Sun god Re was leader.
In this sculpture the afterlife of ancient Egypt lies buried beneath the structure of modern day Cairo, in a sense transforming the modern metropolis in to a vast set of tombs inscribed with magical spells. For the ancient Egyptians magic and religion were synonymous. Looking through the skeletal form of the white map on the surface of the sculpture the existence of the underworld can be seen. The ancient past is revealed and populates the city with it’s symbols and narratives. In a way this sculpture acknowledges and references the ancestral past that underlies all living human forms and their attendant civilizations. Beneath the present city structures lie the many previous incarnations. In the immediate vicinity of Cairo, civilization has been here in one form or another for thousands of years, dating right back to the ancient city of Memphis and the pyramids of Giza.
The incantations in the book of the dead lined the tombs and were inscribed onto the Sarcophogi. In present times the city of Cairo is undergoing tremendous strife and turbulence, as it attempts to emerge from an ossified political structure. Cairo feels like it is in its death throws and it seems like a prescient time to pair it’s form with the benevolent spells of the book of the dead.