ZKM | Museum of Contemporary Art, 09|17|2011 – 02|05|2012
Mona Hatoum

* 1952 in Beirut (LB), lives and works in London (UK) and Berlin (DE)

Measures of Distance, 1988

Considered to be one of the most important Palestinian-British artists of her generation, Mona Hatoum’s wide-ranging works are permeated by a poignant, critical, and ironic interpretation of gender and political issues. Born in Beirut to a Palestinian family, Mona Hatoum travelled to London in 1975 where she was forced to remain following the outbreak of the Lebanese civil war. Educated at the Byam Shaw School of Art and the Slade School of Fine Art, she began her artistic career with interactive performance pieces, which, by pursuing Michel Foucault’s theory on bio-power, highlighted the political nature of the human and particularly female body. In the late 1980s Hatoum ceased her performances in favor of installations and objects which, in a more subtle manner, preserved the same alienating attitude.
The video-installation Measures of Distance is an explicit reference to her years of exile in London. The screen is crisscrossed by a succession of sentences in Arabic, which disturb a female figure showering on the background. When listening to the artist’s voice-over reading the text aloud in English, we then realize its content. Hatoum makes public her mother’s letters, which suggests feelings of separation and displacement. By presenting the naked woman, the work is driven by a strong critique of the stereotyped representation of Arab women as passive and non-sexual beings. (SG)


Measures of Distance
, 1988