Born into a Palestinian family in Beirut, Mona Hatoum was forced into exile due to the outbreak of the Lebanese civil war in 1975. She has lived in London ever since. Through her poetic and radical oeuvre, Hatoum explores themes of home and displacement, gender and differences, and exposes the contradictions and conflicts of our world.Read More
Hatoum started her career in the 1980s making performance and video works. These early works are ostensibly political, often with direct references to the political turmoil in Palestine and her own background. In some performance pieces, she made political statements by putting the vulnerable human body in confrontation with violent institutional power structures. One of the most iconic works from this period is Measures of Distance (1988): a video constructed from intimate images of Hatoum's mother showering. In the video, Hatoum overlaid these images with handwritten Arabic letters from her mother—who was living in Beirut while she was living in London—and Hatoum also reads the letters aloud in English. This autobiographical work speaks of the displacement and tremendous sense of loss that results from the separation caused by war.
Since the late 1980s, Hatoum's practice has shifted increasingly towards large-scale installations and sculptures that aim to engage the viewer in conflicting emotions of desire and revulsion, fear and fascination. She has created a number of works by transforming everyday domestic objects into things with uncanny and threatening qualities. Metal grid structures, geometrical forms and wires are repeatedly used as motifs to recall a sense of oppression and containment brought about by systems of control within a society.
Hatoum has participated in numerous important prizes and events, including the Turner Prize (1995), the Venice Biennale (1995, 2005 and 2013), documenta11 and documenta14 (2002 and 2017), the Biennale of Sydney (2006), the Istanbul Biennial (1995 and 2011), the Sharjah Biennial (2007) and the Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (2013). In 2015, a major retrospective of Hatoum's work was organised and presented by the Centre Pompidou, Paris. This retrospective also travelled to Tate Modern, London, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Helsinki.
Sophia Bingqin Cao | Ocula | 2017