14. Al Bilad newspaper


1955 CE
1375 AH
Bought from newspaper archive in Jeddah, 2015

I am the first Saudi Arabian Newspaper. My pages are thin with age, moth-riddled, rat-nibbled.

Here on my faded leaves you can read news of the first expansion of Mecca: Bin Laden Group, already in charge and taking control; King Saud, signing off on the largest project for the expansion of Mecca to date. And it’s only 1955. But wow, he really loved change, progress, innovation and new things! You only have to look at his legacy – Mecca Cola, Mecca TV … you name it, he embraced it.

The voice of Hejaz since 1932, I still bring you the news of the nation. New name, same message: I am Saudi’s voice to Mecca. My news today? The expansion will be 80,000 square metres, with more state-of-the-art facilities than you can imagine, like multi-storey parking and toilets with seats. For an update, pick me up every Monday from Mecca’s very own print house, Assalafiyah. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to check out this delicious ghee.

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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