34. Token of a journey


c. 1990s CE
c. 1411 AH
Found in Mecca, 2009

I am the ticket to the journey of life. Kept in a scrapbook for over two decades, I am a pass for the special bus for pilgrims, taking them from Jeddah all the way to the gates of Mecca. All Muslims make this journey, even if only once. I can’t tell you how many of us have been kept, either in wallets where our edges become frayed or within the pages of diaries – words stuck to our faces – or in the leaves of the Qu’ran. For we represent a journey, not just of the body to a site, but of the mind and soul to a centre; hearts seeking a home, forgiveness, understanding and salvation. Perhaps they did not know that by placing value on me, those who kept me committed a sin, for no object, no thing should hold an emotional stake – nostalgic or otherwise.

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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