Throughout Mona Hatoum’s artworks, she uses the simplest elements, shapes and exercises to
provoke the source of traumatic feelings or anxieties, pains, dangers and threats. In addition, she
seeks to arouse viewers curiosities and imaginations.
The ordinary materials and objects in her artworks from light bulbs to giant cheese graters
become increasingly unpleasant and most of the times reveal harmful and dangerous intentions in their
character. The relation between human experiences and confines found in her works and enable us
to understand how contemporary art can be drawn from the experience of conflict and crisis and
also how they can create a private, safe place for introspection.
Ultimately a sense of systematic repetition of a theme that Hatoum manifested in different
physical works are like the memories we cannot escape from, they are always a part of us. Like a
core identity, it follows us wherever we go and escape from.
Mona Hatoum has experimented and revisited forms of structure and ordinary objects. Like
the threaded beads throughout her work, they become striking and mandatory elements reinforcing
as the concepts they embody, recurring in a variety of scales.
According to Grinberg and Grinberg, this
migratory process is divided into three stages:
1. In the first stage, the predominant feelings are intense pain for all that
one has left behind or lost, fear of the unknown, deep-rooted loneliness, need, and helplessness...
2. After a period of varying length, the feelings that arise are sorrow for the lost world and nostalgia; the immigrant...[becomes] more accessible, slowly and progressively incorporating the elements of the new culture. The interaction between the inner and outer worlds becomes smoother.
3. In the third stage, the immigrant rediscovers the pleasures of thinking and wanting and recovers the ability to plan for the future, in relation to which the past is felt to be the past, not a ‘lost paradise’ to which [s]he constantly yearns to return...
(Grinberg & Grinberg,Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Migration and Exile, 122.)
Mona Hatoum shows around her studio and talks about her works
There is a sense of ingrained repetition that establishes a formal circularity throughout Hatoum's work. It repeats because, like a memory, we cannot escape it; it is a part of us. Like identity, it follows us wherever we choose to go. The result is not, however, strict seriality or consistent repetition of forms, of the kind found in Minimalist sculpture. Hatoum's revisited forms and structures are threaded like beads throughout her body of work and become cumulatively and compulsively reinforcing as the themes they embody recur in varying scales and are articulated with a precise and highly resolved approach to the material.