Cowboy Code Hadith


Plastic toy gun caps glued together into sheets
415 × 800 cm

Toy guns and their little red caps were ubiquitous for Saudi youth in the late 20th century. Called ‘Western Gun Caps’, they could be found everywhere across the Kingdom. This large-scale wall-based installation of "ten commandments", listed in Arabic and English using these plastic toy gun caps of Ahmed's youth are the appropriation of a song first performed by Gene Autry in the 40s, but also have resonances with Hadith (the recorded teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, PBUH).

The timeless character of the vagabonding cowboy is a persona present throughout the youth of many growing up in Saudi Arabia through the 1980s and 90s, seen in imported Western movies – a playful and frivolous character on the outside but with an almost inviolable moral core. The cowboy is the nomad of the Western sands, much like the Bedouin is the nomad of the Eastern sands.

Over the course of ten years, our lives changed completely. It is a drastic change that I experience every day. The Cowboy Code is something I have thought about for years. When I was a child, the cowboy was always a symbol of freedom and adventure, an ideology that came from the West and assimilated itself into my culture. Like many of my generation, I have taken a lot from the West – the food we eat, the clothes we wear, even our language. I wanted to present this code as a way of reclaiming these qualities as opposed to purely commodity-driven influences. I want to move these compatible beliefs away from politics, away from media and give them back to the people.
Ahmed Mater


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These huge wall-based installations are made by sticking together thousands of tiny plastic gun caps.

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