A Film by Ahmed Mater
Text by Henry Hemming
A film composed from mobile phone footage shot by immigrant workers on building sites in and around Mecca from 2008–2013, during some of the most seismic redevelopments of the city.
Like few cities on earth, Mecca seems to buckle under the weight of its own dramatic symbolism. It is a hallowed site revered by millions, a point of perpetual immigration, and in recent years it has begun to be recast, reworked and ultimately reconfigured.
Makkah is being given a makeover. The speed and breadth of transformation introduce dependent concerns regarding the city’s social mechanics and the on-going and symbiotic relationship between demolition and construction. Above all, it has concentrated the imaginative energy of Makkah’s inhabitants on what will remain once the work is complete.
Most of the footage was shot for the benefit of these workers’ families. The files transferred to the artist’s phone using Bluetooth, while other materials were originally uploaded to YouTube. Some contributors have asked to remain anonymous.