80. Scissors and hair


2014 CE
1435 AH
Bought in Mecca in 2014

Chop chop, come along, who’s next in line for the hair cut? I know it can hurt, but we’re in a bit of a rush – just look at how many of you there are! Millions on millions of pilgrims’ hair I have cut. Snip snip, chop chop, no time to think about it, style it or take care. I advise the women only to cut the hair on one spot – they choose either back, side or front. But for the men, everything has to go! Shaved to the scalp. So many grow it in preparation, making my life just that little bit harder. At least they’re all clean, having just finished the Hajj, as pure as they have ever been since the day they were born.

Just like the Prophet, I move through them one by one. The things I’ve thought of doing with all this hair – the blankets and carpets that could have been woven over the years. As the light flashes from my metal, a glint towards the stars, I send them off towards their futures, clean, shaven, unscarred.

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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