MONA HATOUM: MISBAH Invites Viewers to Experience a Shifting Reality

(New York, NY, May 1, 2021) The American Federation of Arts (AFA) is pleased to announce Mona Hatoum: Misbah, the latest iteration in ArtRoom, a series of touring installations organized by the AFA. Mona Hatoum’s work, exemplified by her installation Misbah, often explores themes of instability and displacement, incorporating familiar objects that are transformed to reveal complicated relationships through unexpected juxtapositions. Misbah (2006-7) (“lantern” in Arabic) is a powerful distillation of this approach – a common type of lamp found in domestic settings – fills the installation space with moving light and unanticipated imagery. The viewer is thereby situated in an environment that is both alluring and unsettling. Mona Hatoum: Misbah will open at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis, TN July 10, 2021 through January 9, 2022.

With Misbah, the viewer stands in a darkened room, lit only by a rotating lantern dangling from the ceiling. After a moment, it becomes clear that the seemingly decorative cut-outs that allow light to pass through the lamp are not traditional motifs, rather, these cut-outs cast images of armed soldiers onto the surrounding walls. Weapons at the ready, the soldiers stalk the periphery of the room as the lantern slowly rotates. In this context, the more traditional star-shaped designs on the lantern suggest wartime explosions. The soft glow of the lamp contrasts with its disturbing projections, evocative of the discordant, and often dangerous, realities of contemporary experience throughout the world.

“Mona Hatoum’s work invokes powerful questions about the shifting nature of perception and reality,” said Pauline Willis, AFA Director and CEO. “We hope sharing this work with new audiences will foster dialogue and inspire conversation for museum visitors and communities across the country.”

Mona Hatoum (b. 1952, Beirut, Lebanon) is considered one of the most significant artists of her generation. Born in Lebanon to Palestinian parents, Hatoum was stranded in London when the Lebanese Civil War broke out in 1975, and she continues to live there. Her sculptures and installations, including re-imaginations of everyday objects, engage with issues of gender, race, and conflict. She has been the subject of major solo exhibitions including presentations at the Centre Pompidou, Paris (2105), the Tate Modern, London (2016), and the Menil Collection, Houston (2018), among others. She has participated in numerous important group exhibitions including the Turner Prize (1995), Venice Biennale (1995 and 2005), Documenta, Kassel (2002 and 2017), Biennale of Sydney (2006), Istanbul Biennial (1995 and 2011) and Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (2013).

Mona Hatoum: Misbah is presented as part of AFA’s ArtRoom, an ongoing series of contemporary art installations that highlights the work of diverse international artists and provides audiences with immersive and perspective-shifting experiences. This groundbreaking series increases access to installation art for cultural institutions and their audiences.

This presentation of Mona Hatoum: Misbah is organized by the American Federation of Arts in collaboration with the Rennie Collection.

Mona Hatoum: Misbah is part of ArtRoom, an ongoing series of contemporary art installations organized by the AFA.

The American Federation of Arts is the leader in traveling exhibitions internationally. A nonprofit organization founded in 1909, the AFA is dedicated to enriching the public’s experience and understanding of the visual arts through organizing and touring art exhibitions for presentation in museums around the world, publishing exhibition catalogues featuring important scholarly research, and developing educational programs.

Media Inquiries: Shawna Gallancy 212.988.7700 x 205


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