Mona Hatoum @ Centre Pompidou

Date of visit: July 2015

Cost (admission into C. Pompidou): €14 full price, €11 reduced, free for under 18

Metro exit: Hotel de Ville

A little about Mona Hatoum (from exhibition brochure):

Born in Beiruit in 1952 to Palestinian parents, Hatoum was on a short visit to London in 1975 when the Lebanese civil war broke out. Unable to return, she attended art school in London. British by nationality, she remained in the UK after her studies and, since 2003, divides her time between London and Berlin.

Her exhibition includes performance, video, photography, installation, sculpture and works on paper.

Hatoum initially attracted public attention with performances and video works in which the body gave expression to a divided and social control. In the 90s she gradually moved away from this form of narrative work and began to focus on sculptures and large-scale installation. Furniture and other familar objects feature prominently in these works, which when modified or scaled up, represent a reality that reflects a suspricious, insidious and hostile environment.

These works appear vulnerable or disorientating, and present us with a world characterised by conflict and contradictions. All this is articulated through the formal language of Minimalism, Kinetic and Conceptual Art and a reference to Surrealism.

+ and -, 1994

In this kinetic work, a rotating motor-driven arm sweeps slowly over the surface of a large sandpit, simultaneously creating and erasing circular lines in the sand. This work is a representation of the interplay between two opposite foreces that are making and unmaking, buildin and destroying in a continuous cycle.

3D Cities 2008-2010

This installation is a trio of street maps of Beirut, Baghdad and Kabul, mounted onto tabletops linked by wooden trestles. Delicate concentric circles have been cut into the surface of the maps to create concave and convex areas suggesting both the positive and negative impact of war and the constant cycle of destruction and reconstruction that these cities have undergone. The recesed areas can be seen as bomb craters or construction sites and the protrusions as explosions or architectural structures rising from the ground.

Hot Spot 2014

This is a steel cage-like globe that tilts at the same angle as the earth. Using delicate red neon to outline the contours of the continents on its surface, the work buzzes with an intense, mesmerizing yet seemingly dangerous energy. The work suggests that 'Hot Spots' or spots of conflict these days are not limited to certain areas of disputed borders, but that the whole world is caught up in conflict and unrest. It can also be seen as a reference to global warming, an impending concern.

Impenetrable, 2009

A large hanging cube meauring 3 x 3 x 3 metres is made entirely of rods of barbed wire. It is a light and airy structure that hovers about 10cm above the floor, as if levitating. Minimal and precise, yet the material it is made of has heavy and sinister connotations. In the title 'Impenetrable', Hatoum makes reference to the Venezuelan artist Jesús Rafael Soto's series of 'Penetrables', hanging cubes made from colourful rubber tubes.

Silence 1994

This work takes the form of a traditional child's cot made of glass laboratory tubing evoking the fragility of the body. This symbol of innonce looks like a skeleton of a bed or an empty circulatory system, beocming quite clinical or ghost-like.

Home 1999

In this work a group of kitchen utensils, placed on a table, are connected together with electric wire that runs to a seires of light bulbs hidden under colanders and graters. The electric current is controlled by an electronic device that fluctuates it making the bulbs constantly flicker and fade up and down. The hum of the electric current is amplified creating a crackling, buzzing sound that adds a sense of threat to the installation. The title is ironic since this domestic scene has been electrified and barricaded behind a fence of stretched wires, suggesting entraptment and violence rather than a place of warmth or belonging.

Light Sentence 1992

The title is a wordplay implying a prison sentence that is not too heavy. The installation is made up of square wire mesh lockers stacked up to crate a 3-sided enclosure above human height. The lockers have the appearance of animal cages but can also relate to the institutional, uniform and box-like architecture that lines the suburbs of large cities. A single naked household light bulb hangs in the middle of the structure and moves slowly up and down, like a search light, casting large, constantly moving gridded shadows on the walls. This movement creates gridded shadows on the walls. This movement creates an unsettling feeling and a sense of instability and disorientation, as if the whole room is swaying.

Disclaimer: the content is from the exhibition brochure, not written by me

#paris #contemporary

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