PDN Photo of the Day

Documenting the Changing City of Mecca

Since 2008, Saudi artist Ahmed Mater has beed documenting the transformation of Mecca, the city where every year, as many as two million Muslims visit to perform their duty as pilgrims. In the last century, the number of people making the journey has grown dramatically, and the city has worked to accommodate them. A new show at the Brooklyn Museum presents Mater’s large-scale photographs along with videos and an installation in a new show, “Ahmed Mater: Mecca Journeys,” on view until April 8, 2018. Mater’s photos and videos explore the “extraordinary expansion, demolition, and new construction transforming the city,” the museum writes in a statement. In the images, construction cranes ring the Sacred Mosque and a brick alley frames the green glow of the Makkah Royal Clock Tower. Mater also focuses on the people in Mecca, from the crowds packed tightly on the walkway to Mina, the neighborhood where 100,000 air-conditioned tents house visitors during the Hajj, to more intimate images, such as a view of two men sharing a meal in a workers’ camp.

Says Mater in a statement, “What started as a desire to show only the changes taking place has ended with a full and exhaustive depiction of a site that can be accessed only by those of the Islamic faith. This collection of images, with their diverse and extreme points of reference, represents the deliberately experimental, meandering, and serendipitous nature of my journey to the heart of Mecca. They are testaments to the cultural and political conditions of contemporary Saudi society.”

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Tasneem Alsultan on Photographing Everyday Life in Saudi Arabia (for PDN subscribers; login required)

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