Exhibition Guide

Mona Hatoum: Room Guide

Room guide for Exhibition at Tate Modern - 4 MAY – 21 AUGUST 2016

‘I want the work in the first instance to have a strong formal presence, and through the physical experience to activate a psychological and emotional response.’ — Mona Hatoum

Born in Beirut to a Palestinian family in 1952, Mona Hatoum settled in London in 1975 after civil war broke out in Lebanon while she was on a visit to Britain. Drawing on her expansive career, this exhibition reflects thirty-five years of poetic and radical thinking.

Hatoum is well known for her large-scale installations and sculptures which challenge the visual language of minimalism and surrealism to expose a world characterised by conflicts and contradictions. The vulnerability and resilience of the human body are central to her work. Her studies at the Slade School of Art between 1979 and 1981 coincided with developing ideas around gender and race and she began to explore the relationship between politics and the individual through performance.

In the late 1980s she began to make installations and sculptures in a diverse range of materials. These often use the grid or geometric forms and make reference to systems of social and physical control. Her works featuring modified household objects explore the fine line between the familiar and the uncanny, and between domestic and hostile environments. By bringing together opposites, such as beauty and horror, she engages us in conflicting emotions of desire and revulsion, fear and fascination.

The works are not shown in chronological order but rather as a series of juxtapositions that demonstrate the variety of ways the artist challenges our assumptions about the world. This guide focuses on a selection of key works from the exhibition.