70. The Pilgrim’s Gifts


2011–2015 CE
1432–1436 AH
Bought in Mecca tourist shops, 2011–2015

I, the scarf, and my friend the prayer beads are the favourite gifts of all. Made from silk, I come in different colours, depending on your fancy, from pink to yellow, green to gold. But the details always remain constant: red, green and black stitching, the colours of Mecca; the interlacing signature arabesques that form a circle around the Ka’aba; the arches, the minarets and the Saudi flag. And soon they’ll be adding in the Clock Tower, fourth-tallest building in the world!

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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