Over a career spanning three decades, Mona Hatoum has become a leading artist on the contemporary art scene. She initially attracted public attention with performances and video works in which the body gave expression to a divided reality, besieged by manifestations of political and social control. In the course of the 1990s Hatoum gradually moved away from this form of narrative and started to focus on sculptures and large-scale installations. Everyday objects feature prominently in these works, items such as chairs, beds and domestic utensils, which, when modified or blown up in size, re-present a familiar reality that reflect a suspicious, insidious and hostile world. These works appear vulnerable and disorientating, and leave no room for fixed meanings of any kind. The body remains central to Hatoum’s work, an intensely fragile measure for perceiving the individual and his or her relation to the world. What is familiar ceases to be so, and the expected is replaced by new visual and conceptual associations. The artist proceeds by delineating a supple language of her own, in which various levels – formal, conceptual and political – consistently interact.
In this exhibition at Galleria Continua, Hatoum revisits some themes that are emblematic of her artistic practice. Alongside a series of works produced between 1996 and 2010, the artist presents some recent and new pieces: mappings of the world informed by signs and memories, domestic objects transformed into singular and disturbing sculptures, but also fragile compositions made from unusual materials like toilet paper, pasta or human nails and hair, the faint residue of our daily existence.
A Body of Work highlights how Hatoum’s work is bound up with the wonder and intimacy of everyday life, but also rooted in an awareness of the conflict and violence that is a consistent threat to notions of self and our own individual identity.