79. Superman


2014 CE
1435 AH
Swapped with labourer for a new helmet without the Bin Laden logo, 2014

I protect from the heat of the sun, the scorch and the burn. I also protect from falling bricks, dirt, wood, nails.

Whoever wears me is invincible! For I belonged once to Superman – can you not tell by the symbol on my front? OK, it’s not the right colour, but I’m pretty certain it comes directly from him, or someone close – perhaps the head of the Bin Laden Group. He’s superhuman, or at least he thinks he is.

I know I shouldn’t, but sometimes I let the fear of the wearer get to me. Fear, mixed with sweat and hard concrete. I am the helmet that was worn by the labourer the day the crane fell. I didn’t really have to do much – he wasn’t hurt. At least not externally. But he was controlling the crane that killed so many, on 11 September 2015. Superstition breeds fear, and deadly dates breed superstition. One year to the day after Bin Laden registered the domain name saudi-binladin-group.com, the 11 September attacks took place in 2001. But all this is crazy speak. What’s a day or date but a number and a name?

This man’s guilt – I could feel it like nails punching outwards and inwards. Yet it wasn’t his fault. Superman could have told him that. It was the waters stirring beneath the scenes. The end of an era perhaps? This was the last time that the Bin Laden construction group would undertake a Mecca contract.

The company registered as A is now B.

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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