27. Ihram


2015 CE
1436 AH
Bought in Mecca, 2015

Tightly packaged, folded, starched, I could almost be the embodiment of the sound itself, the sharp, crisp, white sound of millions moving in prayer as one.

I am the sacred state – the only state you can be in to cross the Umrah or Hajj pilgrimage boundary, the Miqat. In this state, it’s true, you might one day fly, like a plane, like father Taira who makes these gowns under the sign of the aeroplane.

Ladies, listen closely: keep makeup and scent away from your person. Men: disrobe, make wudu and put on these white cottons. Not a stitch, a hem or any decoration – very simply one robe for your upper body and one for your lower body with a belt in between. Just as with the prayer, you shall all look and move in the same direction through the seven motions of the heavens. Two hands, two knees, one head, two feet.

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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