Mitochondria: Powerhouses

In this exhibition, Ahmed Mater scrutinises two systems structuring contemporary geopolitics – religion and natural resources. Through the prism of Saudi society, he demonstrates each system to be massive in both physical and conceptual reach, braided with economics, social transformation and, ultimately, control. Mater finds these global socio-political systems to be governed and guided by concealed and unacknowledged forces. The sources are likened to mitochondria; invisible unless deliberately stained, these biological powerhouses are the location and the processor – supplying, converting and storing energy within the closed system of each cell. In the same way, Mater locates and exposes the unseen powerhouses that govern the 21st century.


In three chapters, the exhibition explores rentier and faith economies as well as the science of Ekistics (human settlements) to trace the contours of economic, environmental and socio-political fortunes. Ambles through Saudi Arabia’s recent past, documentations of its present condition, and projections into its envisioned future become catalysts for global considerations. The restless and relentless development of Makkah is a symbol of faith economies and their religious and urban concerns; the collision of Western capitalism and traditional life are ciphers of globalisation; environmental catastrophe is found in an urgent look from the oil fields of the Gulf to North Dakota and Standing Rock; and the summoning of futuristic new cities from the vast and empty expanse of the desert forge links in a global chain of ambitious trade-oriented development.


In laying bare these apparently closed and disparate urban and symbolic systems, Mater demonstrates how the unseen catalysts in each are in fact connected. Shared forces of control exert influence through locations (both physical presences and moments in time) and processes. Mater mines his own context, observing how these presences conclusively reconfigure contemporary Saudi Arabia. Through the prism of these localised documentations and experiences, he also traces their latent power, finding it to radiate within the Kingdom and beyond its borders. Here we find the traces of unseen, global fortunes that bind and shape the world through economic, environmental, trade, religious and neo-liberal systems.

© 2016 Copyright | Ahmed Mater | All Rights Reserved 

September 23, 2017 - January 7, 2018 |
Galleria Continua, San Gimignano


religion > oil > money > power > faith > control > new cities > rentier economy > economic cities