Five black flags raised at Standing Rock
Film and photographic documentation
In a gesture of solidarity with the Sioux Indians, Ahmed Mater hoisted the flags of Evolution of Man at Standing Rock – recognising the global emergency sparked by oil dependence. The stark warning found in the work was always intended to confront issues of and in the "real" world.
Today, the range of Evolution of Man unfurls with global urgency. The planet wends its way down one-way routes and we find ourselves at a precipice. As the Paris accord disintegrates, the world reaches a decisive fork in the road. Protesters at Standing Rock are a powerful reminder of the urgency of this moment. In November 2016, Ahmed joined them to raise flags emblazoned with his iconic suicidal figures above their resolute opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline, a development that will decimate their reservation. In so doing, Ahmed brought together two apparently disparate worlds in one essential fight.
This was a chance to focus the world’s attention on a number of urgent global issues – of environmental protection and the rights of indigenous peoples and cultures worldwide. We urgently need to work together, across nations and religions, to find alternatives to unregulated capitalism and imperialism. Ahmed Mater2016
Ahmed began these works when working as a doctor as Aseer Central Hospital, where he would deal with X Rays every day. Taking the visual language of medicine, Evolution of Man becomes a diagnosis for Saudi Arabia's dependence on oil.