June 10.10 – September 9.10
Opening reception: Wednesday June 9, from 6pm to 9pm
About the exhibition
Beirut Art Center is pleased to present Witness, the first solo exhibition in Lebanon by internationally acclaimed Palestinian/British artist Mona Hatoum.
Mona Hatoum first became widely known in the mid 80s for a series of performance and video works that focused with great intensity on the body. Since the beginning of the ’90s her work has moved increasingly towards large-scale installations and sculptures that aim to engage the viewer in conflicting emotions of desire and revulsion, fear and fascination. Her work addresses notions of displacement, uncertainty and conflict through the use of familiar domestic objects transformed into foreign and sometimes threatening sculptures.
The exhibition, which follows a five-week residency by the artist in Beirut, will feature recent work as well as a number of new works developed especially for Beirut Art Center.
Witness (2009) (after which the exhibition is named) is a miniaturized rendition in porcelain of the monument of the Place des Martyres in the centre of Beirut. Turned into an ornament it nevertheless faithfully reproduces the monument’s mutilation by the bullets and shells of the civil war that it ‘witnessed’. Worry Beads (2009) is another work that plays with scale. This time it is an enlargement of a “masbaha” or “worry beads” where the beads have been scaled up to the size of cannon balls. Another large work, Impenetrable (2009-10), is a delicate and precariously suspended cube made entirely of barbed wire.
The exhibition will also include Misbah (2006-07), a rotating lantern that looks playful, but the silhouettes of marching soldiers projected around the room gives it a sinister reading. Also included is the work 3-D Cities (2008-09) made up of printed maps of Beirut, Baghdad and Kabul with cut out parts that create concave and convex areas referring to the cycle of destruction and rebuilding that these cities have gone (and still go) through.
Works produced in Lebanon will present a continuation of Hatoum’s work in themes taken up by the artist throughout her career including a new environment of found objects and furniture that have been transformed to create a personal “Interior Landscape” and a rendition of the world map in large sheets of glass that lay uneasily on the floor, as if about to shift.
Mona Hatoum was born into a Palestinian family in Beirut in 1952 and now lives and works in London and Berlin. Hatoum studied at the Byam Shaw School of Art and the Slade School of Fine Art in London. She has participated in numerous important exhibitions including the Turner Prize (1995), The Venice Biennale (1995 and 2005), The Istanbul Biennial (1995), Documenta XI (2002), the Biennale of Sydney (2006), the 3rd Auckland Triennial (2007) and the Quadrennial for Contemporary Art, Copenhagen (2008). Solo exhibitions include Centre Pompidou, Paris (1994), Tate Britain, London (2000) Hamburger Kunsthalle, Kunstmuseum Bonn, Magasin 3, Stockholm (2004), Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2005), the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2009), and the Fondazione Querini Stampalia in the context of The Venice Biennale (2009).
Mona Hatoum was the 2004 recipient of the prestigious Sonning Prize given biennially by the University of Copenhagen. In the same year, she was also awarded the Roswitha Haftmann Stiftung prize from Zurich. In 2008 she was the visual arts laureate of the Rolf Schock Prize given by the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm. She is also the current recipient of the Käthe-Kollwitz-Preis 2010 given by the Akademie der Künste in Berlin.