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Symbolic Cities: The Work of Ahmed Mater

March 19–September 18, 2016

Born in 1979 in southern Saudi Arabia and trained as a medical doctor, Ahmed Mater has been a practicing artist since the early 1990s, creating works that offer an unparalleled perspective on contemporary Saudi Arabia. Now based in Jeddah, Mater has focused primarily on photography and video since 2010. From abandoned desert cities to the extraordinary transformation of Mecca, Symbolic Cities presents his visual and aural journeys observing economic and urban change in Saudi Arabia. The exhibition, the first in the United States solely dedicated to Mater, also debuts new works based on his extensive research on Riyadh's development.

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Contemporary Art in the Freer|Sackler


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Symbolic Cities: The Work of Ahmed Mater is organized by the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, in collaboration with Culturunners in partnership with Art Jameel. Generous exhibition support is provided by Faisal Tamer and Sara Alireza; the Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah; and Jerome and Ellen Stern.


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The Freer is closed for renovation and reopening in 2017. The Sackler remains open, with a full lineup of exhibitions and events both in the museum and around DC.