Ahmed Mater An Artist's Lens on Mecca
Artist Ahmed Mater in his studio.

Ahmed Mater: An Artist's Lens on Mecca


The lecture "Ahmed Mater: An Artist's Lens on Mecca" and reception scheduled for Monday, October 22, as part of the series “Disrupting Unity and Discerning Ruptures," will not take place. We will seek to find another time in the near future that is more conducive to the academic dialogue on campus that is the purpose of the lecture.


Monday, October 22, 2018, 6-8pm 
612 Schermerhorn Hall
Columbia University
1180 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY

Reception to follow in the Stronach Center.

Renowned Saudi artist Ahmed Mater will talk about his documentation of a changing Mecca through his photography and video work. His art explores apparent contradictions embedded within this site between the holy and profane, historicity and eternal time, spaces of worship and sites of real estate speculation.

The sacred and holy space of Mecca called in Arabic haram denotes the act of forbidding, and excluding, and thus implies the apparent human faculty of defining spaces and setting borders between the holy and the profane. While the sacred space usually appears as totally autonomous and linked to the eternal, the profane zone seems to exist as bound to and dependent on historical time. This supposition results in assigning terms such as common, habitual, and ephemeral to historic times, as opposed to pure and intact designating the ‘Holy’ to everlasting time. But both spaces were and are constrained to historical time. Though aiming at iconicity, Mecca’s haram visions have history too.

Mater’s presentation will be followed by a conversation with Dr. Avinoam Shalem, Riggio Professor of the History of the Arts of Islam at Columbia University.

The event is organized by the Center for Spatial Research and the Art History and Archaeology Department at Columbia University with the support and help of the Middle East Institute, Columbia University and Middle East Institute at Washington DC. This event is part of the Arab Art and Education Initiative, a year-long collaboration between more than 15 leading New York and Arab world cultural institutions, seeking to build greater understanding between the United States and the Arab world.

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