90. Miswak


5000 BCE
Bought in Mecca, 2015

Here you are, ready for your perfect future. Nothing must go in until you’ve been purified, neutralised and cleansed of all your sins. So, while you wait for the final blessing, I’m here to bring you back to how it was, but without ingesting even the smallest amount of water. Use the stub of my root to scrub your teeth, just as the Prophet would have done and those who went before him. Scrub them clean, bringing them back to perfection. Once, they would have cut me from the tree, dug out my roots and chewed and chopped me up to use. Now, I come packaged, clean, another symbol to be bought in order to achieve your state of perfection.

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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