Mona Hatoum

Art, Contemporary art
Mona Hatoum
Mona Hatoum: 'Light Sentence', 1992. © Mona Hatoum. Photo: Philippe Migeat Courtesy: Centre Pompidou, Paris

Mona Hatoum made a name for herself in the 1980s with performances including a gruelling hour-long barefoot trudge through the streets of Brixton with DM boots attached to her ankles. Since then, her work has been a no-holds-barred exploration of human fragility and strength, often inspired by her own story (born in Beirut in 1952 to a Palestinian family, she settled in England in the mid-1970s after war broke out in Lebanon). Her installations of grid structures recalling fences, cages, compartments and racks, such as ‘Light Sentence’ (1992) are grandiose, though hostile and rather chilling experiences. Adapted furniture works such as ‘Incommunicado’ (1993), a cot with cheese wires instead of springs, come across as instruments of torture.  It’s more than 20 years since Hatoum was nominated for the Turner Prize. Yet, incredibly, this show, which tours from the Centre Pompidou in Paris, is her first major survey in London. Full of things to say (often angrily) about exile, racial inequality and war in the Middle East, this is art that speaks with as much relevance to today as when it was made. That this in itself isn’t much to celebrate only adds to the sense of coiled rage that lies at its heart.

By: Martin Coomer

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