Ahmed Mater will launch his most recent book, “Desert of Pharan: Unofficial Histories of The Mass Expansion of Mecca”, published by Lars Muller Publishing, at Alserkal Avenue. The launch will be paired with an exhibition from the same series, curated by ATHR, a contemporary art platform in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Through a series of photographs, Ahmed Mater charts the city’s origins to its more recent history over the las tfive years. It is a study of the site’s recent transformation—Mecca, until recently, embodied as a unique urban tapestry, layered with histories that are stitched together by an abundance of organically rooted communities and cultures. It is a place that accommodated not only sacred structures and sites but also huge fluctuations in population during Ramadan and Hajj (up to 3 million visitors a year travel to Mecca).
More recently, these sites and communities have been eradicated and are being replaced with five-star-studded high rise developments, transforming it from an active metropolis to the world’s most exclusive, yet most visited religious tourist destination, reflective of an unprecedented experimentation with architecture and its possible impact on social stratification.