Ahmed Mater (Saudi Arabian, b. 1979)
installation of iron filings and magnets on a white cabinet within a glass case
Cabinet Base: 4714 x 3538 x 3538in. (120 x 90 x 90cm.)
Glass Case: 2834 x 3538 x 3538in. (73 x 90 x 90cm.)
Executed in 2009, this work is unique in a variation of five plus one artist proof
Donated directly by the artist.
Variations of Magnetism have been exhibited and illustrated in the below:

S. Stapleton & E. Booth-Clibborn (eds.), Ahmed Mater, London 2010 (illustrated in colour, p. 40, 84-105).
S. Stapleton & E. Booth-Clibborn (eds.), Edge of Arabia: Contemporary art from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, London 2012 (illustrated in colour, p. 168-169).
K. Kenichi (ed.), Arab Express: The Latest Art from the Arab World, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo 2012 (illustrated in colour, p. 104-107).
L. Ball-Lechgar & S. Kaawach, 25 Years of Arab Creativity: The Contemporary Arab Art Scene, Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation, Abu Dhabi 2013 (illustrated in colour, p. 127-129).
V. Porter & M.A.S Abdel Haleem, Hajj: Journey to the Heart of Islam, British Museum, London 2012 (illustrated in colour, p. 252-253).
D. Mills & L. Danforth, Phantom Punch: Contemporary Art from Saudi Arabia, Bates College, Lewiston 2017 (illustrated in colour, p. 95).
T. Mackintosh-Smith, Arabs: A 3,000-Year History of Peoples Tribes and Empires, New Haven 2019 (plate 7).
A. Mater, S. Stapleton & E. Booth-Clibborn (eds.), Prognosis / Saudi Arabia: An Artist’s Odyssey by Ahmed Mater, London 2021 (in forthcoming book to be published 2021).
Venice, Edge of Arabia, 53rd Venice Biennale, 2009.
Paris, Institut du Monde Arab, 25 Years of Arab Creativity,2012.
London, British Museum, Hajj, Journey to the Heart of Islam,2012.
Doha, Museum of Islamic Art, Hajj, the Journey through Art, 2013.
Leiden, Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde, Longing for Mecca: The Pilgrim’s Journey, 2013.
Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Festival & Institut du Monde Arabe, 25 Years of Arab Creativity, 2013.
Prato, Centro per l'Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci, Scenarios: The End of the World, 2016-2017.
Paris, Galleria Continua, Continua Sphères Ensemble, 2017.
Brooklyn, Brooklyn Museum, Ahmed Mater: Mecca Journeys, 2017-2018.
San Gimignano, Galleria Continua, Mitochondria: Powerhouses, 2018.
Amsterdam,Tropenmuseum, Longing for Mecca, 2019-2020.

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Lot Essay

'When my grandfathers spoke to me as a child about their experience of Hajj, they told me of the physical attraction they felt towards the Kaaba, that they felt drawn to it by an almost magnetic pull.' -Ahmed Mater

Critically acclaimed, the present work Magnetismby Ahmed Mater is being offered as part of The Future is Unwritten Healing Arts Auction unveiled by Christie’s, the WHO Foundation and UN75; a cause which acts as a cultural call-to-action to support a global COVID-19 response through the arts. In collaboration with Christie’s, the Healing Arts Auction will run over the course of a year, with works offered in a number of sales across a wide range of categories.

Donated directly by Ahmed Mater in support of this important cause, Magnetism is a timely indicator of the present times during COVID-19, when the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca has been scaled back and the holy site seen mostly empty for the first time in its history.

One of Mater's most important works to date, Magnetism fuses art, science and the concept of identity and religion, created and inspired by one of the most iconic cultural images of the Islamic world. Variations of the Magnetism series have been exhibited across prestigious venues including the Venice Biennale, the British Museum, London, MATHAF: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, the Brooklyn Museum, New York and the Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris. Simple, yet captivating in both concept and physical form, the artist places a magnet surrounded by infinitesimal iron particles, resembling the black draped Ka'bah, the ‘Cube', which constitutes the central element to the Islamic ritual and reflects the great annual pilgrimage of Muslims to Mecca. This installation mirrors the circumambulation-the tawaf- which is the sevenfold circling of the Ka'bah during the pilgrimage.

Not only does this powerful piece symbolise simulacra of the Ancient House of God, it also reflects dichotomies in the cosmos, of the universe and of the essence of human existence - square and circle, lightness and darkness, black and white that adheres and materialises in harmony. Here we see that magnetism, gravity and the basis of attraction form the basis of the cosmos within particle physics - what constitutes and propels the world to exist.

As part of The Future is Unwritten’s initiative to engage the international art world in UN priority areas, and WHO Solidarity Series of Events, the auction series aims to increase awareness around a global path to recovery and raise critical funds to mobilise artists and health professionals in support of the communities most vulnerable, at-risk and with the weakest health systems to act effectively in response to the pandemic.

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