Lightning Land


Seismic flashes of force conjure new cities and new structures of economic and social power in the vast and empty expanse of the desert. The erratic and unpredictable energy of this work alludes to the radical transformation that have reconfigured Saudi society since the mid-20th century, first with the discovery of oil, and later with the founding of massive new urban centres.

In the 21st century, the creation of something from nothing takes the form of ‘Economic Cities’, beacons of Saudi Arabia’s future. In 2016, the Kingdom’s rulers announced ‘Saudi Vision 2030’, a plan to wean the economy off oil; a plan absolutely unprecedented in its ambition and scope. These feats of creation are imagined as dramatic flashes of energy, prompting considerations of what it is that ignites them and the new social and economic power they may come to exert.

I am interested in how power makes itself manifest. Often invisible, governing things like the financial markets, it also can appear and transform societies in seismic and unpredictable ways. In my country, this happened with the unexpected discovery of oil. At that moment, the vast expanse of the desert became the site of enormous power. This wealth transforms my country again as new economic cities are conjured from "nothing". What was an empty land becomes populated with massive urban centres, economic powerhouses that connect the kingdom with ambitious new trade routes that are reconfiguring the world.
Ahmed Mater


Mitochondria: Powerhouses

Galleria Continua, San Gimignano, Italy

Drum roll, please

King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia
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