Mona Hatoum

Lebanon 1952 (Palestinian). Lives and works between London and Berlin.

"Her work is the presentation of identity as unable to identify with itself, but nevertheless grappling the notion (perhaps only the ghost) of identity to itself. Thus is exile figured and plotted in the objects she creates. Her works enact the paradox of dispossession as it takes possession of its place in the world, standing firmly in workaday space for spectators to see and somehow survive what glistens before them. No one has put the Palestinian experience in visual terms so austerely and yet so playfully, so compellingly and at the same moment so allusively. Her installations, objects and performances impress themselves on the viewer’s awareness with curiously selfeffacing ingenuity which is provocatively undermined, nearly cancelled and definitively reduced by the utterly humdrum, local and unspectacular materials (hair, steel, soap, marbles, rubber, wire, string, etc) that she uses so virtuosically. In another age her works might have been made of silver or marble, and could have taken on the status of sublime ruins or precious fragments placed before us to recall our mortality and the precarious humanity we share with each other. In the age of migrants, curfews, identity cards, refugees, exiles, massacres, camps and fleeing civilians, however, they are the uncooptable mundane instruments of a defiant memory facing itself and its pursuing or oppressing others implacably, marked forever by changes in everyday materials and objects that permit no return or real repatriation, yet unwilling to let go of the past that they carry along with them like some silent catastrophe that goes on and on without fuss or rhetorical bluster."

- Excerpt from 'The Art of Displacement: Mona Hatoum's Logic of Irreconcilables' by Edward W. Said. See full text
Mona Hatoum, Exhibition Catalog, Darat al Funun, 2008