Mecca Windows


Wooden window frames, glass panes

Collected from demolished buildings in Mecca, these colourful panes of glass belong to the disappearing fabric of the city. Objects harvested from a perpetually changing place, they provide a literal 'window' onto the past and a former way of life.

The collection of the windows started as a bemused fascination as part of the 100 Found Objects series, and developed into an obsession. The first few Ahmed encountered were anachronistic artefacts, sat on the floor decoratively, or piled carelessly with the detritus of demolition.

Ahmed explains: "At first, it felt exceptional to happen across them, glinting blue-green and purposeless like some extravagant glass sculpture. Yet, the more I noticed them, the more I saw them; harvesting them from the rubble of the old city became a kind of homage to what I imagine was there before.

Having amassed more than 100, they feel less exceptional, less like one-offs, but, somehow, even more precious in their proliferation. Their former existence as windows implies ways of looking, portals. It’s important for me to find and preserve objects which allow us to do this. Modes of looking and observing are important across many of my works and especially in ‘Desert of Pharan’ – I use the lens of a camera, I love viewfinders, window features contained within images. These windows without purpose become objects that speak about the refusal to look to or acknowledge the past, I’m resisting this."

I first encountered these windows as discarded, anachronistic artefacts. Sometimes they were being used as decorative objects, sitting on a floor, but more often I found them piled carelessly with other detritus at demolition sites. At first, it felt exceptional to happen across them, purposeless, like some extravagant sculpture. Once I noticed them, harvesting them from the rubble of the old city became a homage to what I imagined was there before.
Ahmed Mater


Stand in The Pathway and See

Galleria Continua, Les Moulins, Paris

Ahmed Mater: Mecca Journeys

Brooklyn Museum, New York
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