Found on a hard drive in the demolished district of Al Shamia, Mecca, 2015
He found us on an abandoned computer in an old studio on a demolished site. He stole the hard drive, that scavenger, and extracted us like DNA.
There can be no glasses, no smiling, no expression at all on these official passport photographs shot against white backgrounds. The head should be pulled back, face straight to the camera, no angles allowed.
What we show is that the social DNA of Mecca is vast! We are everyone from young men to children and the elderly, all from different ethnic groups and places. So many races have passed through the city, with many staying. We have spoken so many languages, from dialects to formal tongues. But we all share a common ground: we are all Muslim.
We are a future army. Our faces are moving towards homogeneity, and it is what the leaders want. They want control of every expression. Remove the positives and negatives and there you have it: neutral identities. The army for the dystopian dream. One where Islam rules.
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