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Mona Hatoum: Over My Dead Body

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA)


23 Mar 2005 to 29 May 2005

Curator: Elizabeth Ann Macgregor

about the exhibition

This was the first Australian solo exhibition of prolific Lebanese artist Mona Hatoum, whose career has spanned over three decades. Born in Beirut to Palestinian parents, Hatoum settled in London in 1975 when war broke out in Lebanon, preventing her from returning home. Much of her work reflects this experience of exile and its impact on her sense of identity. Despite the dark themes, her sculptural objects and installations also have a stark beauty. These contradictions, beauty and violence, attraction and repulsion, are key factors in her work.

Mona Hatoum: Over My Dead Body included documentation of early performances, video and key works such as Corps étranger (1994), Measures of Distance (1988), Light Sentence (1992) and Homebound (2000), and proved to be a timely exhibition, as world events focused attention on issues of identity, power and dislocation.

A major theme of the exhibition, and of Hatoum’s work, was the unsettling impact of taking a familiar situation or object and making it dangerous, or threatening. Homebound (2000), for example, was an assemblage of household furniture, kitchen utensils and other objects made of metal, joined together with electrical wire, and electrified. The current fed a series of light bulbs hidden beneath colanders, cheese graters and other objects which pulsed with the ebb and flow of electricity. The humming of the current was amplified, and the whole installation was only viewable from behind a wire fence. Hatoum has said 'if the ordinary and the everyday is portrayed as threatening it throws a doubt on your assumptions about the world around you…you begin to have to ask yourself questions, about power relationships, about who is oppressing or manipulating whom.’

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