Mona Hatoum is considered one of the most important artists of her time. She puts global concerns such as gender, politics and the body under the microscope using unconventional media such as video, installations and video. The Tate has brought a fantastic show to London that examines her work from the 1980s to modern day.
Through her work Hatoum confronts some of the big injustices of our modern world. Her art speaks to the individual, asking us to confront our assumptions on big issues, rather than making grandstanding statements to attract the attention of the masses. Her aim is to engage the viewer, soliciting interpretation and eliciting emotional and physical responses. Regardless of the theme her work always manages to make us stop and think.
The exhibition organises her work as a series of ideas side by side, rather than in chronological order, and in so doing emphasises the different ways the artist challenges our assumptions of the world. For me the installations stole the show and Light Sentence (1992) and Impenetrable (2009) particularly stood out.
Light Sentence (1992) occupies a whole room. It is made up of square wire mesh lockers resembling animal cages with a single light bulb hanging in the middle of the structure. The installation at first glance is simply intriguing, but the longer one spends in the room the more disoriented and uncertain one feels. For the room seems to move. The idea behind the piece is trauma and politics and the title plays on the idea of a lenient term in prison. It is very disconcerting and very effective.
Impenetrable (2009) is equally intriguing. From a distance this installation gives the appearance of an ethereal cube suspended in air but as one gets closer the work reveals its menacing aspect. It is composed of hundreds of barbed wire rods dangling from fishing wire. It is hostile and threatening evoking associations with conflict, violence, prisons and state authority. As with many of Hatoum’s works it seems quite innocent initially but is reveals itself to be psychologically charged.
These are typical of Hatoum’s art and clearly demonstrate the most interesting aspect of her work; their effect on the viewer. They draw you in, play with your perceptions and leave an unsettling feeling. The exhibition has met with mixed reviews, however I personally believe it is well worth seeing.
The Mona Hatoum exhibition is currently on at the Tate Modern in London until 21st August 2016. For more information and tickets visit: http://www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-modern