68. Al-Musawar, 1987


1987 CE
1408 AH
Found in a vintage bookshop in Jeddah, 2015

You’ve met me before! I am Al-Musawar, the weekly periodical that began in 1925. Since I first launched, I’ve recorded the clashes between the Shiite and the Sunni, Saudi and Iran. Of course, these days I am government-owned, but still, I report on the ins and outs of the Arab world, including that fateful day when Iran overstepped the mark. As my title suggests, I show the secrets behind the incident in Mecca. To challenge the Saudi government like this came as a shock to us all. But when so many innocents died in the holy place, I had to record it, frame by frame, fact by fact. So here you have it: to accompany my colleagues the films, an in-depth record of that fateful day in 1987, 31 July.

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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