98. I, Motawif


2050 CE
1473 AH
Found in a Mecca tourist shop, 2015

I, Motawif, am your faithful guide through the Hajj. You may not be in a position to get to every stop, but do not fear: I’ll make sure that you recite what you need to and pray where you must.

The great thing about me is that you can press ‘play’ and ‘pause’; you can choose my voice from a number of options, and go through each exact step, even from the comfort of your hotel room.

You’ll like my tones, since only the best motawifs were chosen to record. My packaging – glossy, compact and pocket-sized – will also give you satisfaction. Following the safety precautions with the influx of illegals, it’s important that you register yourself through the fingerprint reader on my back. Otherwise, as you probably know, a deafening alarm will sound. If you’re elderly and hard of hearing, then I suggest you remain in your hotel room and do a Hajj Badal, after which there are delightful certificates that you can buy for 50 riyals.

This work transcends the objects. Ultimately, what I’m working with isn’t only the artefacts themselves, but the stories attached to them. For me, each tale is the manifestation of the object, and each object is a tangible materialisation of an underlying narrative. The work finds its equilibrium somewhere between the stories and chronology they’re chaptered into, the objects becoming knots or points along the timeline, woven into stories as part of the language of this artwork. Each story draws out a tale that intends to trigger imagination and memory, mixing fact with fiction, with the ultimate aim of straddling, conflating and confusing fixed notions of history to open up the unofficial histories that shape the character of place and memory.
Ahmed Mater
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