28. The Mezmar Stick


c. 1928 CE
c. 1346 AH
Bought in a Mecca music shop, 2015

I am the stick of the Mezmar dance, performed to the beat of five drums, with just two dancers at the centre. I am a tool of dexterity and wit, wielding power overhead as the whips move in and between each other. It was King Abdul Aziz who inspired this dance, a dance for Mecca alone. It often feels like an enactment of the battle between good and evil, with seven players moving or beating to one rhythm.

Like a procession, we weave through the pilgrims with the ever-changing landscape of the city as our backdrop.

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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