Mona Hatoum’s work, exemplified by her installation Misbah, strikes the ineffable balance between socio-political commentary and sheer beauty.
Misbah (2006-7) (“lantern” in Arabic) is a powerful distillation of Mona Hatoum’s distinctive approach to installation—situating the viewer in a setting that is both alluring and unsettling. 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 (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 presentations at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, the Tate Modern, London, and the Menil Collection, Houston.
ArtRoom makes immersive and experiential art available to a wide range of museums and audiences, while highlighting the work of diverse international artists. It is a resource for cultural institutions seeking to bring a spectrum of installation art to their audiences. The pieces in the series are meant to be experienced individually, rather than as a group exhibition. The AFA will facilitate the realization of each installation in order to ensure its success at each unique venue: liaising with the artist and/or originating collection and the venue; providing a detailed installation plan and equipment (as necessary); and providing guidance for production and installation.
Other works in the series:
This presentation of Mona Hatoum: Misbah is organized by the American Federation of Arts (AFA), in collaboration with the Rennie Collection.
Mona Hatoum: Misbah is part of ArtRoom, an ongoing series of contemporary art installations organized by the AFA.