Mona Hatoum's works are beautiful and fascinating but sometimes also downright dangerous. Through subtle transformations of everyday objects she creates emotional and psychological experiences that disturb our original understanding of the use and meaning of the objects.
Sous tension, 1999
DescriptionThe work comprises a massive and evidently used wooden table with various metal utensils – colanders, parsley mincers, almond grinders, graters, etc. On the floor more utensils are scattered between a mass of wiring. The objects are lit by small light bulbs and the entire installation is hidden behind a steel cable construction. The current-carrying wiring, attached to the metal utensils, makes the installation buzz with varying intensity.
About the work
Translated verbatim the French title means 'under tension' but the meaning is actually 'electrified'. The artist thus emphasises the dangerous, current-carrying wiring in the work. Moreover the installation emits a loud, buzzing noise, a telltale sign of the electricity flowing through the objects. The scattered articles seem to almost come alive: their shapes make them look like spiders, scorpions or other creepy-crawlies.
Mona Hatoum's art in general
Hatoum's works combine her interest in aesthetics with questions of a political and social nature. Her art deals with cultural and sexual identity and affinity – or lack of same. She works with familiar materials and objects which in her works are imbued with new meanings. Thus her art runs parallel with the work of the Surrealists who also explored the transformation of the familiar, resulting in the unheimlich.
Mona Hatoum was born in exile in Beirut, Lebanon to Palestinian parents. In 1975 she visited the UK as the civil war broke out in Lebanon.....