© 2016 Copyright | Ahmed Mater | All Rights Reserved 

Evolution of Man

“I am a doctor and confront life and death every day, and I am a country man and at the same time. I am the son of this strange, scary oil civilization. In ten years our lives changed completely. For me it is a drastic change that I experience every day.” – Ahmed Mater, 2010

A silhouetted gas pump mutates into a human x-ray, a gun to its head, before morphing back again. Unlike the progression of evolution, this foreboding suicidal form is caught in a relentless and destructive cycle without reprieve.


Here a succinct, urgent warning against an over-reliance on the petrodollar, a destructive addiction Mater witnessed in Saudi Arabia as it embraced and feted its fortune as a rentier state.


These 2010 x-rays were a diagnosing doctor’s perspective – at that time, an apparently inexorable prognosis – that the environmental and social risks of oil were so vast that they threatened to throw the timeless, irrepressible march of evolution into a spiral of destruction.


This cautionary chiasmus has proven itself a potent premonition of the changing fate of the Kingdom as it reimagines a newly diverse future which will wean the Kingdom off its dependence on oil. 


Today, the work’s range also unfurls with global urgency. The planet wends its way with insidious rapacity 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, Mater joined them in solidarity, hoisting flags emblazoned with his suicidal figures above their resolute opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline that will decimate their reservation. In doing so, he harnessed together two apparently disparate worlds in one essential fight.

Saudi artist: Standing Rock protesters are warning us to save what we can – The Guardian

After the US Army Corps of Engineers denied a permit for the Dakota Access pipeline to drill under the Missouri river, Saudi Arabian artist Ahmed Mater joins protesters at Standing Rock to celebrate their victory. 

A Saudi Artist Hoists Flags at Standing Rock to Bring Attention to the Environmental Crisis​ – Hyperallergic

One Saudi artist sees parallels between the battle to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline and the impact of oil in his own country.