Mona Hatoum is one of the most influential artists of her generation. Her performances, videos, photographs, sculptures and installations focus on displacement, marginalisation and state control – themes that she explores both against the backdrop of her own biography and with regard to current social developments. For the first time in Germany, three Berlin institutions are opening a parallel exhibition dedicated to Mona Hatoum’s multifaceted work as part of the Berlin Art Week. From mid-September, the exhibition will be on show at the Georg Kolbe Museum, the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein and the KINDL – Centre for Contemporary Art.
image above: Mona Hatoum, Remains of the Day, 2016-2018, Photo: © Mona Hatoum, © White Cube (Kitmin Lee)
Hatoum’s works are often characterised by contradictions and can trigger fascination and irritation in equal measure. Clear, minimalist formal language and robust surfaces of industrial materials characterise her aesthetics. In her most recent works, Hatoum turns in particular to the precarious conditions of the world. In expansive installations, she uses elementary forms that on the one hand suggest order and stability, but on the other hand also carry the potential of sudden collapse. Walking a tightrope between stability and collapse, the familiar and the uncomfortable, beauty and terror, they provide a commentary on the conflicting feelings and situations to which one is exposed as a human individual in a present characterised by political conflicts and climate emergency.
The Georg Kolbe Museum – a former artist’s studio – presents a selection of around 30 works that provide an overview of Hatoum’s work since the 1980s, as well as a series of new works that respond to the site.
In Performance Documents (1980 – 1987/2013), her early performance videos and photographic documents, Hatoum interacts with her audience, often passers-by in public spaces. In simple, mostly ritualised actions, everyday routines take a threatening turn and address their own involvement and questions of the subjectivity of perception. Through the loss or ambiguity of their context, small gestures become charged signs that thematise being a stranger in a culturally coded environment and at the same time initiate a dialogue that deliberately undermines demarcations. In both early and more recent works, the body functions as a point of reference, as in Cage for One (2022): a sculpture based on the proportions of the human body.
The floor installation Tectonic (2022) was created especially for the Georg Kolbe Museum. A world map milled into the surface of a grid of square glass plates. It hovers a few centimetres above the floor and is supported only by transparent glass marbles. The work depicts planet Earth as a fragile construct, symbolising an unstable, wobbly geography. The glass plates are precariously balanced and can easily shift, slip or bump into each other. In the installation Remains of the Day (2016 – 2018), a work that emerged on the occasion of the 10th Hiroshima Art Prize exhibition, Hatoum creates a domestic environment that looks as if it has been seized by a sudden catastrophe. The charred, ghostly remains of the furniture, held together only by a wire mesh, appear unstable and on the verge of collapse. In the context of Hiroshima, this installation recalls the devastation caused by the atomic bomb, but beyond that, this scene also universally represents the consequences of war, violence and environmental catastrophe.
Hatoum also questions the intimate, private space for its uncanny implications. She uses household objects that appear symbolically and literally charged: The work Electrified (variable V) (2022) consists of kitchen utensils and furniture hanging from the ceiling, through which active electric current flows, causing a light bulb to glow just above the floor. Her installation Triangulation II (2022) is about the complex relationships between family members. Three pairs of shoes are connected by a spider’s web of glass beads: those of a little girl with those of her mother and father. The work symbolises strong family ties and closeness, but also conveys a sense of entanglement.
The three-part exhibition will be on view in September at the Georg Kolbe Museum (15.9.2022 – 8.1.2023), the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (15.9.2022 – 13.11.2022) and the KINDL – Centre for Contemporary Art (18.9.2022 – 14.5.2023) and is funded by the Capital Cultural Fund. Admission to the Georg Kolbe Museum is 7 euros (reduced rate 5 euros) and entitles the holder to reduced admission to the KINDL upon presentation of the ticket. On the occasion of the exhibition, a publication will be published by Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther und Franz König, Cologne, edited by Marius Babias, Kathrin Becker and Dr Julia Wallner.
A cooperation project of the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, the KINDL – Centre for Contemporary Art and the Georg Kolbe Museum.
Curators: Marius Babias, Kathrin Becker, Julia Wallner
The exhibition at the Georg Kolbe Museum is curated by: Dr. Julia Wallner
Curatorial assistance: Elisabeth Heymer and Katherina Perlongo
About the artist
Mona Hatoum was born into a Palestinian family in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1952. During a short visit to London in 1975, the outbreak of the Lebanese civil war prevented her from returning home. Since then she has lived in London.
Hatoum has participated in numerous important international exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale (1995 and 2005), Documenta, Kassel (2002 and 2017), the Sydney Biennale (2006), the Istanbul Biennale (1995 and 2011) and the Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (2013). Recent solo exhibitions include a major exhibition organised by Centre Pompidou, Paris (2015), shown at Tate Modern, London, and KIASMA, Helsinki (2016), and a major exhibition in the US initiated by the Menil Collection, Houston (2017), shown at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, St Louis (2018). In 2022, Hatoum’s work was exhibited at two venues in Stockholm: Magasin III Museum of Contemporary Art in Frihamnen and Accelerator on the campus of Stockholm University. Hatoum has been awarded the Joan Miró Prize (2011), the 10th Hiroshima Art Prize (2017) and the Praemium Imperiale (2019). She recently received the Julio González Prize from IVAM – Institut Valencià d’Art Modern in 2020, where she had a solo exhibition in 2021.
Wednesday, 14 September 2022 at 5:00 p.m.
Thursday, 15 September 2022 until Sunday, 8 January 2023
Saturday, 29 October 2022, 2:00 p.m.
Symposium at KINDL – Centre for Contemporary Art, Maschinenhaus M0
With Marius Babias (Director Neuer Berliner Kunstverein), Sam Bardaouil (Director, Hamburger Bahnhof), Kathrin Becker (Artistic Director KINDL – Centre for Contemporary Art), Tamar Garb (Durning Lawrence Professor of Art History, University College London), Natasha Ginwala (Associate Curator, Gropius Bau), Mona Hatoum (Artist, London), Polly Staple (Curator and Director of the British Art Collection, Tate, London) and others. Free admission, in English language
Curator’s tour of the Georg Kolbe Museum
Thursday, 29 September 2022, 6:00 p.m.
Cost: 9 euros / reduced 7 euros
Thursday, 10 November 2022, 6:00 p.m.
Cost: 9 euros / reduced 7 euros
Admission: 7 euros / Reduction: 5 euros
Free admission: up to 18 years
Annual ticket: 30 euros
Georg Kolbe Museum, Sensburger Allee 25, 14055 Berlin-Charlottenburg
and also at
KINDL Zentrum für zeitgenössische Kunst, Am Sudhaus 3, 12053 Berlin-Neukölln
Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Chausseestraße 128-129, 10115 Berlin-Mitte