Ahmed Mater: Mecca Journeys

1 Dec 2017 - 30 Apr 1018

Brooklyn Museum, New York

Mecca Journeys Brooklyn Museum Preview Dinner 2017 Helga Traxler photosalonhelga by HT 7417
Mecca Journeys Brooklyn Museum Preview Dinner 2017 Helga Traxler photosalonhelga by HT 6774
Mecca Journeys Brooklyn Museum Preview Dinner 2017 Helga Traxler photosalonhelga by HT 6779
Mecca Journeys Brooklyn Museum Preview Dinner 2017 Helga Traxler photosalonhelga by HT 7444
Mecca Journeys Brooklyn Museum Preview Dinner 2017 Helga Traxler photosalonhelga by HT 6590
Ahmed Mater Preview Dinner BM by HT 7741
Mecca Journeys Brooklyn Museum Preview Dinner 2017 Helga Traxler photosalonhelga by HT 6652
Mecca Journeys Brooklyn Museum Preview Dinner 2017 Helga Traxler photosalonhelga
Mecca Journeys Brooklyn Museum Preview Dinner 2017 Helga Traxler photosalonhelga by HT 6423
Mecca Journeys Brooklyn Museum Preview Dinner 2017 Helga Traxler photosalonhelga by HT 6593
Mecca Journeys Brooklyn Museum Preview Dinner 2017 Helga Traxler photosalonhelga by HT 6932
Mecca Journeys Brooklyn Museum Preview Dinner 2017 Helga Traxler photosalonhelga by HT 6566

CURATOR

Catherine J. Morris
Sackler Senior Curator for the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn Museum

MUSEUM PARTNER

Brooklyn Museum

ORGANIZER

King Abdulaziz Center for
World Culture

CULTURUNNERS

Director: Stephen Stapleton
culturunners.com

In 2018, The Brooklyn Museum presented Ahmed Mater: Mecca Journeys, an unprecedented look into the changes unfolding in Mecca, by one of the most significant cultural voices documenting the realities of the iconic city.

Saudi artist Ahmed Mater began his monumental documentary project in 2008, bearing witness to the extraordinary expansion, demolition, and new construction transforming the city. The exhibition features large-scale photographs of Mecca, as well as more intimate images of its diverse inhabitants, alongside six videos, a sculpture, and an installation piece.

Focusing on the site of the annual hajj pilgrimage for millions of Muslims, as well as the living and working conditions of Mecca’s permanent residents, Ahmed Mater: Mecca Journeys presents a complex portrait of extreme urban redevelopment and the direct effects of the ongoing reconstruction of the holy city

What started as a desire to show only the changes taking place has ended with a full and exhaustive depiction of a site that can be accessed only by those of the Islamic faith, This collection of images, with their diverse and extreme points of reference, represents the deliberately experimental, meandering, and serendipitous nature of my journey to the heart of Mecca. They are testaments to the cultural and political conditions of contemporary Saudi society.


Ahmed Mater
2010

The presentation is anchored by a suite of photographs from the series Desert of Pharan, published as a book, Desert of Pharan: Unofficial Histories behind the Mass Expansion of Mecca (Lars Müller Publishers, 2016), the artist’s monumental, multiyear documentary project that captures the voices and experiences of Mecca’s inhabitants and hajj pilgrims. For Mater, Desert of Pharan is an unofficial history of the social and political life of the city within the global context of the Muslim diaspora. Photographs on view document the influx of wealth into the city, including images of luxury hotel rooms with views of the Mecca Royal Clock Tower, as well as the lives of workers on construction sites, among them the large population of Rohingya who have immigrated to the city from Myanmar (formerly Burma) for decades.

As Mecca is a city that can be visited only by Muslims, I was drawn to Mater’s work as a window into a place and a cultural experience many people in the world will never have the opportunity to see first-hand. Before becoming an artist, Mater practised as a medical doctor who specialized in community health, and his sensitivity to the implications of social well-being on an individual and a communal level, as reflected in the rapidly changing city, makes Mecca Journeys both a monumental cultural document and a highly personal exploration.


Catherine Morris
Exhibition Curator

Exhibited Artworks:

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