42. The Motawif’s Papers


c. 1970s CE
c. 1390s AH
Found in a demolished house near Shamia, Mecca, 2015

You asked me, dear motawif, to fill in as many details in this register as possible about where I am from and where I am going. To be honest, I’m not really sure. Originally, I’m from Warkala, which is 750 kilometres from the south and the capital of the desert. My first wife is in Algeria with our two sons, my second in Mecca. However, I’m most comfortable in the desert, living with my brothers on the land.

My third son is that of my second wife Hoariya, and they live together in Al Makara Court, Apartment 6, Building H, Military District No. 2, near the market and the Saturday souq. Hoariya owns this apartment; I don’t live there. I guess you could say that it’s complicated.

You’re probably wondering how well I get on with my sons. We get on just fine, thank you. I miss them, but my life has taken me on roads that I would have preferred not to have travelled. I came to Mecca once on a pilgrimage, a few years after my second son was born and I had left my first wife. And it was then that I fell in love. Head over heels! But city life was not for me and we soon parted ways. I come back every year to visit and purge my sins. This was so much easier during the free-trade years: no questions asked, just a book with your name listed in it.

Is that is enough detail for you, dear motawif? Shall we proceed?

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
arrow-down icon arrow-left icon arrow-right icon carousel-left icon carousel-right icon close icon facebook icon grid icon instagram icon letter icon mail icon mute icon search icon twitter icon unmute icon youtube icon