23. Red to Green


Pre-2013 CE (the year the colour of the long prayer carpets in Mecca were changed to green)
Pre-1434 AH
Found outside the Grand Mosque, Mecca, during construction, 2013

From red to green: just when the construction started they changed us, as though to signal a fresh start, or something new on the horizon. We are a special length, designed to fit exactly around the Ka’aba. All who kneel there do so on us – men and women, shoulder to shoulder, faces to the ground, performing Sujood. On our 4 metres by just over 1, ten people can stand, one to one, genuflecting to the seven sacred points. Two hands, two knees, a head and two feet. At my centre is Saudi’s logo, of course, for the heart of Mecca is also the heart of the kingdom.

Sometimes, so much love and adoration was bestowed onto me, I imagined I was magical. It’s not so far from the realm of possibility is it? The jinns would appear, and I lying there, flat and silent, would wait for one of them to snap me up and bring me to attention, to lift me from the cold hard ground and release me of the weight of prostrate bodies, so that we could fly up to skies and out to the night.

But we all know jinns don’t travel on magic carpets. I remained a prayer mat, heavy with faith, my patterns slowly worn out by the seven sacred points. I belong to old Mecca – Mecca the red – Mecca of the last 100 years, a Mecca on which we will never tread again.

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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