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Mona Hatoum

(Beirut, Lebanon, 1952 - )

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Mona Hatoum is a Palestinian exile whose work explore themes of home and displacement using common domestic objects altered to expose menacing and uncanny characteristics. In the 1980s, she began making sculptures and installations that incorporate themes of suppression and violence—from barbed wire to grenades harnessed in the control of tight grids and geometric forms. Through formal and material contradictions, as in an airy screen made of barbed wire or a rug of glass marbles, Hatoum’s minimalist sculptures are disquieting. These paradoxes embed her work with tensions that challenge worldly realities.

Drowning Sorrow (2001 – 2002) comprises clear broken bottles arranged in a circular formation on the floor, so as to appear sinking beneath its surface. The installation is destabilizing; the bottles’ brokenness suggests these household objects have undergone trauma. Meanwhile, their rigid geometric formation seems nearly to disappear into the ground, challenging the solidity of the earth itself.  

This work is the first by Mona Hatoum to enter SJMA’s permanent collection.

Hatoum was born in Beirut to Palestinian family in 1952. She studied at Beirut University College (1970 – 72) and settled in London in 1975, attending the Byam Shaw School of Art (1975 – 79) and the Slade School of Art (1979 – 81). Hatoum’s work has been exhibited in major institutions including solo exhibitions at Castello di Rivoli, Turin; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Hamburger Kunsthalle; Magasin 3, Stockholm; The Menil Collection, Houston; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; New Museum, New York; and Tate Britain, London. Public collections of her work include Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and Tate Gallery, London. (acquisitions meeting February 20, 2018)

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