43. The Wooden Shutter


pre-1915 CE
pre-1333 AH
Found by the artist on a demolition site in Jirwil, Mecca, 2015

I am the famous wooden shutter of Mecca. I once covered every window in this city of old bricks and wood. The people would call to each other from me when the city was low and sprawling, the walls thick and damp with the cool of the shade. You’ll find me still, but not here; perhaps in South India and Kerala, from where I came. Now, you can just recognise me in the tall towers of the city, with their signature arched window shapes, repeated in their thousands – a small hint to what the city used to be like, but no longer able to open or close. Instead, air is pushed through vents and no longer through shuttered windows.

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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