at Tate Modern
Until 21st August 2016
There can be virtually no doubt that Mona Hatoum’s new show at Tate Modern is going to be one of the must-see exhibitions for summer 2016. It is jam-packed with all the Beirut-born artist’s best and most well-known works. In one of the very first rooms you are treated to Hatoum’s famous journey down her own gullet, courtesy of an endoscopic camera. Corps Étranger (1994) is projected onto the floor of a claustrophobically small cylindrical viewing space and makes for strangely compelling viewing. Given how much small children like this sort of (slightly grotesque) thing, this piece might make a good entry-point for parents looking to introduce a youngster to contemporary art. Just a thought.
There are around one hundred of Hatoum’s works on show, although amazingly it does not feel in any way as crammed as that sounds. In fact the pieces seem to have loads of space to allow you to enjoy them. And enjoy them you will. Highlights include Hot Spot (2013), the glowing red globe with the continents outlined in neon that speaks of the dangerous world of conflict and unrest we inhabit and also the extraordinary room of vertical barbed wire rods entitled Impenetrable (2009). These are works you want, and must, give time to.
Make a point of spending a bit of time sitting on the bench provided in front of Homebound (2000). This room of domestic objects and furniture is presented behind a barrier of taut steel wires and, as an pre-programmed electric current is passed along a wire that connects the contents of the room, the bulbs fade up and down and an audible and unsettling buzz and crackle fills the room. The domestic environment, the historic domain of the female, is revealed here as both prison and fortress.
And, as an important side note, I’d like to congratulate the Tate. At a time when so few top-flight galleries seem to give their big exhibition spaces to women artists with any kind of regularity, it has been heartening to see the Tate mount major retrospectives in 2015-16 for Sonia Delaunay, Agnes Martin, Barbara Hepworth and now Mona Hatoum. These four shows have been some of the best exhibitions I have seen at the Tate. Ever.
So don’t miss this one.
The exhibition is on until 21st August 2016.
All photographs ©The London Art File
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