Mona Hatoum – Poetic & Political Installations, Tate Modern, 4 May – 21 August 2016.
I first discovered Mona Haltom’s work at the Turner Prize exhibition in 1995. While the winner became THE celebrity artist for the 21st century (and has poisoned museum guards across the globe with his leaky formaldehyde tanks for good measure), it was two of the other artists that grabbed my attention. Callum Innes’ beautiful quiet meditations and explorations on the medium of paint, and Mona Haltom’s haunting and thought provoking installations. Neither artist has achieved Hirst’s global reach (or thankfully his subsequent critical devaluation), but TATE Modern’s new Mona Hatoum retrospective should bring her the wider exposure her work deserves. Her installations touch on such thorny subjects as confrontation, violence and voyeurism.
In ‘Light Sentence’ the moving lightbulb (representing ideas or thoughts perhaps?) gently rising and falling between the floor and the ceiling is encaged by wire lockers on three sides, like a prison cell. As a viewer, we can walk around the installation and step into it, bathed in the harsh geometric lines of the flickering moving shadows, feeling almost trapped in the claustrophobia of the piece. Mesmerising.
‘Impenetrable’ appears to be suspended cube made up of individual planes that encourage the viewer to step in and explore. Move closer and the ‘cube’ reveals itself to be made up of suspended lengths of barbed wire, ready to trap and ensnare us…
‘Through the juxtaposition of opposites such as beauty and horror, Hatoum engages us in conflicting emotions of desire and revulsion, fear and fascination.’ TATE Modern, 2016