|Born||1952 (age 68–69)|
|Education||Beirut University College|
|Awards||Rolf Schock Prizes in Visual Arts (2008)|
Joan Miró Prize (2011)
Praemium Imperiale (2019)
Mona Hatoum was born in 1952 in Beirut, Lebanon, to Palestinian parents. Although born in Lebanon, Hatoum was ineligible for a Lebanese identity card and does not identify as Lebanese. As she grew up, her family did not support her desire to pursue art. She continued to draw throughout her childhood, though, illustrating her work from poetry and science classes.
Hatoum studied graphic design at Beirut University College in Lebanon for two years and then began working at an advertising agency. Hatoum was displeased with the advertising work she produced. During a visit to London in 1975, the Lebanese Civil War broke out and Hatoum was forced into exile.
She stayed in London, training at both the Byam Shaw School of Art and the Slade School of Fine Art (University College, London) between the years 1975 and 1981. In the years since, "she has traveled extensively and developed a dynamic art practice that explores human struggles related to political conflict, global inequity, and being an outsider."
Artwork and themes
Hatoum explores a variety of different subject matter via different theoretical frameworks. Her work can be interpreted as a description of the body, as a commentary on politics, and on gender and difference as she explores the dangers and confines of the domestic world. Her work can also be interpreted through the concept of space as her sculpture and installation work depend on the viewer to inhabit the surrounding space to complete the effect. There are always multiple readings to her work. The physical responses that Hatoum desired in order to provoke psychological and emotional responses ensures unique and individual reactions from different viewers.
Hatoum's early work consisted largely of performance pieces that used a direct physical confrontation with an audience to make a political point. She used this technique as a means of making a direct statement using her own body; the performances often referenced her background and the political situation in Palestine. In her work, she addressed the vulnerability of the individual in relation to the violence inherent in institutional power structures. Her primary point of reference was the human body, sometimes using her own body.
Measures of Distance
Created in 1988, Measures of Distance illustrates Hatoum's early themes of family, displacement, and female sexuality. The video piece itself is fifteen minutes long and consists of intimate, colored photographs of Hatoum's mother showering. Hatoum overlays the photographs with letters that her mother, living in Beirut during the civil war, wrote to Hatoum, living in London. Handwritten in Arabic, the letters make up the video's narration and themes, and speak to the difficulty of sending letters in a time of conflict. Hatoum reads the letters aloud in Arabic and English. The video roots itself in the brief family reunion that occurred in Beirut between Hatoum and her parents in 1981. While primarily about the mother–daughter relationship, in her mother's letters Hatoum's father is mentioned and thus the father–daughter relationship as well as the husband–wife relationship is examined in this video.
The elements of the video—the letters, Hatoum's mother's wish to see her, and mentions of the war by Hatoum's mother—explore how the war in Palestine and the war in Lebanon displaced the identity and the relationships of Hatoum and her family. The video is neither a documentary nor meant to be journalistic. The video critiques stereotypes and remains optimistic, since the narration from the letters is largely positive, except about the distance between the mother and the daughter. Hatoum attempts to recreate the moments when she reunited with her mother in Beirut and when she asked to photograph her in the shower. Instead of directly depicting the Israeli–Palestinian conflict or the Lebanese Civil War, Hatoum shows how the conflicts affected her family's relationships and her identity. Hatoum both distances and draws in Western audiences through her narration in English and Arabic.
In this portrait of a Palestinian woman, Hatoum gives her mother a voice while subverting stereotypes about Arab women. The Tate Modern describes the portrait in the following words: "It is through the daughter's art-making project that the mother is able to present herself freely, in a form which cements a bond of identity independent of colonial and patriarchal concerns." Measures of Distance is one of the few works done by Hatoum that speaks directly to her background. In other works, Hatoum prefers to be more abstract and to leave the work open ended. While not as abstract as many of her other works, the viewer is still forced to work through how to understand the formal elements of the video. They are not easily given by Hatoum, as the narration is here. "The video transmits the 'paradoxical state of geographical distance and emotional closeness.'"
Made in 2002, Grater Divide transforms an everyday object, in this case a common kitchen grater, into a 80 in × 76 in × 33 in (203 cm × 193 cm × 84 cm) divider, alluding to political alienation, perhaps caused by Israeli-built walls in Palestinian territory.
Hot Spot III
Hot Spot III, created in 2009, is a large installation piece of the globe tilted like the Earth and about as tall as a person. The title connects to the theme of political unrest, imagining conflict in one geographical area upsetting the whole world. The globe is made of cage-like steel that glows luminescent red, as though the world is ablaze, flickering quickly, meant to create an energetic environment that mesmerizes the audience. The installation also invokes a feeling of danger with the hot red lighting outlining the continents. Hatoum challenges whether minimalist or surrealist forms can adequately address the world's issues.
In the late 1980s, Hatoum abandoned performances as politically too direct and instead turned her attention to installations and objects, taking up some of the earlier ideas from her student days at the Slade School of Art in London. From then on, she relied on the kind of interactivity that lets the spectator become involved in the aesthetic experience without making the artist as performer the focus of attention.
Since the 1990s, her work has generally shifted from making statements to asking questions. Much more is required of the viewer as performances were replaced by sculptures and installations that required a level of mental and physical interactivity. Her practice has shifted towards site specificity in, for instance, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, and Kunsthalle Hamburg.
Many of Hatoum's early pieces situate the body as the locus of a network of concerns—political, feminist, and linguistic—thereby eliciting a highly visceral response. One of her pieces, a 1994 video installation called Corps etranger, showed color video images of an endoscopic probe of her body. Corps etranger was originally produced for Centre Georges Pompidou and features a partially enclosed, cylindrical structure that viewers are called to enter. The viewer stands on a circular plate of glass, and video close-up images of internal and external parts of the artist’s body. The artist hails the viewer to “walk around” the inside of her body through the visual sequence taken on the endoscope and colonoscope, scanning and probing her digestive system. The audio is a recording of a heartbeat and bodily movements.
The political possibilities for the uncanny visual motif are relevant to discussions of Hatoum's work, as the disruption achieved at a psychological level can have broad implications involving power, politics, or individual concerns. The allusiveness attained by her work is not always referencing grand political events, or appealing to a generalized cultural consciousness, but instead to a seemingly unattainable threat that is only possible to address on an individual scale.
Hatoum has tied her works to other political movements, especially black struggle. In an interview with Michael Archer in 1997, Hatoum said: "At the beginning it was important to think about the black struggle as a total political struggle. There are common political forces and attitudes that discriminate against people. In the same way as feminism started off with this totalizing concept of 'sisterhood', and then we ended up with many feminisms, if you like. The black struggle became more diversified once the basic issues were established. And blackness here is not to do with the colour of your skin but a political stance."
Since 1983, Mona Hatoum has been displaying both her installations and her video performance art pieces in exhibitions around the world. She has been featured in individual exhibitions as recently as 2018 at White Cube in Hong Kong.
Some of her other solo exhibitions of note include: Centre Pompidou, Paris (1994), Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (1997), The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (1998), Castello di Rivoli, Turin (1999), Tate Britain, London (2000), Hamburger Kunsthalle, Kunstmuseum Bonn, Magasin 3, Stockholm (2004) and Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2005), Parasol Unit, London (2008), Darat Al Funun, Jordan (2008), Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Venice (2009), Beirut Art Center (2010), and the Menil Collection (2017).
She has also participated in a number of recognized group exhibitions, including: The Turner Prize (1995), Venice Biennale (1995 and 2005), Biennale of Sydney (2006) and the Biennale of Montreal; Drone the automated image (2013). A solo exhibition entitled Turbulence is organized in 2014 by Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha.
The Menil Collection in Houston, Texas organized a solo exhibition titled "Mona Hatoum: Terra Infirma" that was on view from October 12, 2017 to February 25, 2018. This exhibition then traveled to the Pulitzer Arts Foundation and was on view from April 6 to August 11, 2018.
In March 2018, Hatoum was shortlisted for the Hepworth Prize for Sculpture, alongside Michael Dean, Phillip Lai, Magali Reus and Cerith Wyn Evans. The work of the shortlisted artists was displayed at the Hepworth Wakefield gallery from the end of October of that year.
1992 Dissected Space: New Installations 1990-1992, Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff.
1993 Mona Hatoum, Arnolfini, Bristol.
1994 Mona Hatoum, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.
2013 Mappings, Centre d’art des Pénitents Noirs, Aubagne, France
2013 A Body of Work, Galleria Continua, San Gimignano, Italy
2013 Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, Switzerland
2013 Reflection, Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris
2014 Turbulence, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar
2014 Twelve Windows, Alexander and Bonin, New York
2014 Galerie René Blouin, Montreal
2014 Close Quarters, Museum of Fine Arts Ghent, Belgium
2014 Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo
2015 Twelve Windows, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas
2015 Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
2015 Fundación PROA, Buenos Aires
2015 Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Massachusetts
2016 Twelve Windows, Tate Modern, London,
2016 Twelve Windows, Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, 2016
2017 The 10th Hiroshima Art Prize, Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art
2017 Terra Infirma, Menil Collection, Houston, Texas
2017 Terra Infirma, Pulitzer Arts Foundation, St. Louis, Missouri, 2018
2017 Displacements/Entortungen: Ayşe Erkmen & Mona Hatoum, Museum der bildenden Künste, Leipzig, Germany
2018 Remains of the Day, White Cube, Hong Kong
2018 Every wall a door, Riverrun, Istanbul
2019 Remains to be Seen, White Cube, London
2019 Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris
2012 You Are Still Here, Arter, Istanbul
2012 Projection, Joan Miró Prize, Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona
2012 Shift, Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin
2011 Silver Lining, Hochschule der Künste, Bern, Switzerland
2011 Bunker, White Cube, London
2011 Bourj, Alexander and Bonin, New York
2011 Sammlung Goetz, Munich
2010 Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris
2010 Suspendu, MAC/VAL Musée d’art contemporain du Val–de–Marne, Vitry–sur–Seine, France
2010 Witness, Beirut Art Center
2010 Käthe – Kollwitz Prize 2010, Akademie der Künste, Berlin
2010 Electrified, Kunsthal 44 Møen, Askeby, Sweden
2010 Le Grand Monde, Fundación Botín, Santander, Spain
2010 Keeping It Real: Act 3, Current Disturbance, Whitechapel Gallery, London
2009 Alexander and Bonin, New York
2009 Measures of Entanglement, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing
2009 Hanging Garden, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna
2009 Interior Landscape, Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Venice
2009 Undercurrent (red), Galleria Continua, San Gimignano, Italy
2009 Natura Morta, Fondazione Merz, Turin, Italy
2009 Mona Hatoum: Collected Works, Rennie Collection at Wing Sang, Vancouver
2008 Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris
2008 Undercurrents, XIII Biennale Donna, Palazzo Massari PAC, Ferrara, Italy
2008 Unhomely, Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin
2008 Hanging Garden, DAAD Galerie, Berlin
2008 Present Tense, Parasol Unit, London
2008 Darat al Funun – The Khalid Shoman Foundation, Amman, Jordan
2006 Kairotic, Townhouse Gallery, Cairo
2006 Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin
2006 Galleria Continua, San Gimignano, Italy
2006 Hot Spot, White Cube, London
2005 Over My Dead Body, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney
2005 Mobile Home, Alexander and Bonin, New York
2005 Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, Reed College, Portland, Oregon
2004 Hamburger Kunsthalle, Germany; Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany; Magasin III, Stockholm
2004 Galerie René Blouin, Montreal
2003 Photo and Video Works, Uppsala Konstmuseum, Sweden
2003 Artist’s Choice: Mona Hatoum, Here Is Elsewhere, Museum of Modern Art, New York
2003 Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Oaxaca,
2003 Exconvento de Conkal, Yucatan, Mexico
2002 Laboratorio Arte Alameda, Mexico City
2002 Grater Divide, White Cube, London
2002 Centro de Arte de Salamanca
2002 Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, Santiago de Compostela, Spain
2002 Alexander and Bonin, New York
2002 Galerie Nordenhake, Stockholm
2001 Sala Mendoza, Caracas
2000 The Entire World as a Foreign Land, Tate Britain, London
2000 Images from Elsewhere, fig–1, London
2000 SITE Santa Fe, New Mexico; as Domestic Disturbance, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams, 2001
1999 The Box, Turin, Italy
1999 Castello di Rivoli, Turin, Italy
1999 Artpace, San Antonio, Texas
1999 Le Creux de l’enfer – Centre d’art contemporain, Thiers, France; Le Collège, FRAC
1999 Fonds régional d’art contemporain Champagne–Ardenne, Reims, France, 2000;
1999 Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen, Antwerp, Belgium, 2000
1999 Alexander and Bonin, New York
1998 Kunsthalle Basel
1998 Measures of Distance, Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, Ohio
1998 Over My Dead Body, Der Standard, Museum in Progress, Vienna
1998 Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, UK
1998 Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh
1997 Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
1997 New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York
1997 Galerie René Blouin, Montreal
1996 The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia
1996 Gallery Anadiel, Jerusalem
1996 Current Disturbance, Capp Street Project, San Francisco
1996 Quarters, Viafarini, Milan
1996 De Appel, Amsterdam
1995 Socle du Monde, White Cube, London
1995 Short Space, Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris
1995 British School at Rome
1994 Galerie René Blouin, Montreal
1994 Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
1994 CRG Gallery, New York
1993 Recent Work, Arnolfini, Bristol, UK
1993 South London Gallery (with Andrea Fisher), London
1993 Socle du monde, Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris
1993 Positionings/Transpositions (with Barbara Steinman), Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada
1992 Mario Flecha Gallery, London
1992 Dissected Space, Chapter, Cardiff, UK
1989 Mind the Gap, A Space, Toronto, Canada (performance)
1989 The Light at the End, The Showroom, London; Oboro, Montreal
1989 Galerie Obscure, Quebec
1989 Forest City Gallery, London, Canada
1986 Nine One One Contemporary Arts Center, Seattle, Washington
1985 Between the Lines, The Orchard Gallery, Derry, UK (performance)
1985 Variation on Discord and Divisions, Western Front, Vancouver; Articule, Montreal (performance)
1984 Variation on Discord and Divisions, ABC No Rio, New York (performance)
1984 Variation on Discord and Divisions, AKA Gallery, Saskatoon, Canada (performance)
1984 The Negotiating Table, Franklin Furnace, New York (performance)
1983 The Negotiating Table, SAW Gallery, Ottawa, Canada (performance)
1983 The Negotiating Table, Niagara Artists Centre, St Catharines (performance)
1983 The Negotiating Table, Western Front, Vancouver (performance)
- 2008 – Rolf Schock Prize in Visual Arts
- 2011 – Joan Miró Prize, Fundació Joan Miró
- 2017 – 10th Hiroshima Art Prize, Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, Hiroshima
- 2018 – Whitechapel Gallery Art Icon
- 2019 – Praemium Imperiale for the sculpture category, in recognition of her lifetime achievement in the medium.
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