59. Wheels of Fortune


Hajj Information Wheel
1984 CE
1404 AH
Found in an old stationery shop in Mecca, 2015

Hajj Brochure (sponsored by Nivea)
c. 1970s CE
c. 1389 AH
Found in a Meccan family’s archives, 2014

I am the ultimate city guide, printed in Beirut before they sent me en masse to Mecca. I’m rather out of date – a relic of the 1970s and 80s. Yet I paint a picture of how things used to be, before iPhones and Snapchat. I listed everything you might need to know about Saudi Arabia and Mecca. Take a look, spin my dial, and see what you can discover. The most important events are listed, from the first Saudi state to the second. You’ll find your meeting points, telephone numbers, hospitals and schools. I’m not like the motawif, a guide to the Hajj; I am instead a city guide. I’m for food, cafés, shisha and such. For the small things that make you feel at home, like takeaways and stationery shops, dentists and doctors.

They call me the city jinn, the god of finding your feet and navigating your way.

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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