Viewfinder, 100 Found Objects


100 objects found in Mecca
Stories to correspond with each artefact

Mecca is timeless and ever-changing. The city – symbolic, physical – exists in a rapidly transforming social, urban and political context. Its identity is reconfigured and its history obscured. As its urban reality shifts, so too its status and significance for the global community of Muslims.

Collected over many years, these 100 objects tell the story of a place. Each artefact connects with memories, ideas, symbols, histories. In an attempt to get close to the reality of the place, each piece becomes a voice. Shuffled together, ordered, reordered, they reveal and preserve complex histories of globalisation and religion, personal memory and political history. They allow for glimpses of the forces that course through the city, the currents of 20th and 21st-century narratives: radical Islam, the power struggles of monarchy and religion, tradition and modernity.

The paraphernalia rescued and accumulated are the 100 Found Objects, a time capsule from which narratives of Mecca’s untold past emanate. Like a genealogy, these pieces illuminate productive new combinations that chart the unofficial histories of this remarkable place. Drawing on the documented and the remembered, the living archive composes, uncovers and recovers the roots and foundations of tradition and ritual, personal lives, momentous events in the city’s history and fragments of an urban landscape that is being reshaped beyond recognition.

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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