This summer the Tate Modern wil host a long-overdue retrospective of Mona Hatoum. The show is a brilliant demonstration of the intimidating and vast talent that Hatoum is blessed with. The survey consists of over 100 works from the 1980s to the present day, from early performances and video, sculpture, installation, photography and works on paper.
Hatoum’s collection is an extraordinary demonstration of strength. Hatoum left her homeland of Palestine, in 1975 and was forced to settle in England once war broke out in Lebanon, and she was unable to return to her home country.
Rather than holding on to the fear that she must have been carrying, Mona turned her feeling and pain into something inspirational.
Despite the turbulence in her life, Hatoum uses her immense talent to set aside her personal political ideals and neither asked direct questions nor provides any answers. Instead, the collection invites its admirers to explore the issues that affect politics worldwide: fear and desire, the familiar and the foreign, and the bodily and the mechanical and encourages contemplation and personal beliefs.
The collection is enthralling and challenging, my personal fascination landed on an older installation, Homebound from Mona Hatoum in 2000. In this work, a powerful (and potentially lethal) electric current passes through a series of household items, lighting up bulbs and emitting a loud buzzing sound. The colanders, beds and cheese graters transform before the viewer’s eyes from familiar homely objects to potential death-traps, and then back again as the current is conducted elsewhere. A better demonstration of the world around me, I never have seen.
The curators have chosen to eschew the usual chronological arrangement of retrospectives, and instead exhibit works according to carefully curated themes and contrasts. Although this makes it harder to trace Hatoum’s artistic development, the resulting juxtapositions are intriguing and generally work well.
Less well-known than many of her contemporaries, Mona Hatoum’s work has been given relatively little recognition up until now. Hopefully the new exhibition at Tate Modern is a sign that this is beginning to change.