Mona Hatoum: Misbah

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.





Available to travel to four venues beginning in February 2020


Presentation period: 12 weeks

Space requiredroom, gallery, or constructed space measuring approx. 17 ft. (L) x 13 ft. (W) x 8 ft. (H)

Provided by the AFA:
-Detailed installation plans
-Guidance for production and installation


Margery King, Curator,, 212.988.7700, ext. 246

About ArtRoom

Misbah is presented as part of the AFA’s ArtRoom series.

From the crisscrossing strings of Marcel Duchamp’s his twine (1942), to the mirrored, polka-dotted chambers created by Yayoi Kusama, installation art has made a significant impact both on art history and on a wide range of audiences. ArtRoom offers a series of installations by contemporary artists, highlights the work of diverse international artists, and provides audiences with immersive and perspective-shifting experiences.

ArtRoom is a resource for cultural institutions seeking to bring a spectrum of installation art to their audiences. Venues may choose to show one or more of the installations. 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 collection and the venue; providing detailed installation plans and necessary equipment; and providing guidance for production and installation.

Other works in the series:

Bill Viola: The Raft