20. Door sign


c. 2000 BCE
Found in demolition sales yard, Mecca, 2012

I once adorned the gates of the Qu’reishi tribe, one of the main entrances of the Grand Mosque. For each first family of Mecca has its own gate. I was placed there lest anyone forget who it was who made this site sacred, worthy, great.

The Qu’reishi are the most important of all. Descendants of the Ottomans, they belonged to the holy place even before the Ashraf. They were merchants there, controlling Mecca and the Ka’aba, before even the Prophet appeared. Whilst the mosque is round, making all men equal, and whilst each door has a name, mine is the most important of all. It is the Qu’reishi who decide the next name to be added every fifty years or so, when a new door is built to welcome our pilgrims. Without them, the holy site would never have survived.

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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