Mecca Journeys was Ahmed Mater's first major solo exhibition in New York, presents a compelling portrait of the massive urban redevelopment now under way in the holiest city in the Islamic world, and its effects on residents and the millions of hajj pilgrims who travel there every year. Saudi artist Ahmed Mater has documented this unprecedented expansion for nearly a decade. The exhibition is anchored by monumental photographs from his project Desert of Pharan: Unofficial Histories Behind the Mass Expansion of Mecca, alongside large-scale videos and installations. In addition to showing the influx of wealth, photographs detail the lives of workers on construction sites and of migrant groups.
“I need to be here, in the city of Mecca, now, experiencing, absorbing, and recording my place in this moment of transformation, after which things may never be the same again,” states Mater. “It has become important for me to identify with this place and to understand how this constellation of change, as well as the forces that are shaping it, will affect the community of which I am a part.”
Focusing on Mecca as both a symbolic site of worship and a contemporary urban center grappling with the consequences of unremitting growth, Mecca Journeys presents a portrait of the complex cultural dynamics at work in the city today.
Ahmed Mater: Mecca Journeys is organized by the Brooklyn Museum in partnership with the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) and is produced in collaboration with CULTURUNNERS. This exhibition is curated by Catherine Morris, Sackler Senior Curator for the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum.
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Brooklyn, NY United States
Ahmed Mater trained as a community doctor on the Saudi/Yemeni border, before rising to become one of the most significant Arab artists of his generation. Born in Tabuk, Saudi Arabia, then moving at an early age to the mountainous Asir region in the South, Mater's life and work have been shaped by seismic changes and unprecedented social shifts across the Arabian Gulf. He uses photography, film, sculpture and performance to map, document and analyse these rapid developments, considering their psychological impact on the individual, the community, urban environments and society at large. Entwining expressive and politically engaged artistic aims with the scientific objectives of his medical training, his artistic practice embraces the paradoxes of science and faith. Employing broad research-based techniques, Mater mines and preserves forgotten narratives and unofficial histories to map the Kingdom's past, present and future. As a cultural producer and educator, Mater is dedicated to discourse and social activism as a means to tangibly influence the wider civil society.View profile
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