Found on a demolition site, Al Shamia district, 2013
I probably look very old to you, perhaps even ancient. And in a way, it is true: I belong to another era, the time before the destruction. I am a micro study of the Kingdom’s ups and downs at that time. From politics to economics, everything can be found in my pages if you look hard enough.
There was a period in our city’s history when neighbourhoods had little stores, places where you were trusted and your word was enough to let your family eat during the hard times as well as the good. I hold a little private history of the families who filled a poor neighbourhood, from the flats on the corner to the mosque near the hill, the school by the library and the offices above. Everything was written down, from toothpaste to water, fruit, veg, milk. I show the struggles of the large families to feed every mouth, when times were bad and the economy struggled. I reflect the community’s strength and support. For together, they overcame every card they were dealt.
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 Mater2014