Rest Assured, 2001-2005, silicone rubber, aluminum and wood, variable dimensions, courtesy of the artist, the Angel Collection of Contemporary Art, Israel, and Max Hetzler Gallery, Berlin
Mona Hatoum's work repeatedly returns, over time, to address states of being uprooted, of detachment and of wandering - which are characteristic of those who have no physical roots, home or homeland. The violence stemming from this state of existence - be it the result of a geographical, physical or emotional rupture - is given expression in her works in many ways. Hatoum, who was born in Beirut to a family of Palestinian exiles, was constrained to remain in double exile from her country with the 1975 outbreak of civil war in Lebanon. The artist, who was visiting London at the time, was constrained to remain far away from her family and twice uprooted from her homeland, and her life evolved in a constant state of longing and yearning.
The work Rest Assured is woven out of delicate latex rubber bands; this is a hammock that offers an option of rest, yet which will likely crash in the course of the attempt to realize it. A hammock is, by definition, a temporary object that may be installed when needed or on demand, and which does not usually function as a permanent bed. In many ways, it produces an extremely exposed and vulnerable state: lying within it and passively sinking as one succumbs to the force of gravity means abandoning oneself to the gaze and to fate. The work's title alludes to a double promise for rest and security. Hatoum's work is equally poetic and political, personal and a-temporal, poignant and delicate. It challenges the viewer by combining different subjective experiences and creating complex enigmatic states and touches upon questions of freedom and political borders, while also relating to internal, mental and emotional borders.
The work Traffic II is composed of two old leather suitcases positioned one against the other. Woven into their sides are human hairs that extend outwards, as if attempting to reconnect on the floor. Like other works by Hatoum, this work attempts to bring together the familiar and the uncanny, the personal and the public, the specific and the general. Moreover, the concept of home - which has repeatedly surfaced in her works over the years - is once again presented as unstable: although the suitcases point to the potential for an internal, mobile or alternative home, they mainly mediate its ephemeral quality. By calling attention to subjects such as war, immigration, refugees and wandering, the work fills the viewer's field of awareness with allusions to memory, an experience of sadness and a longing for security.
Born in Beirut, Lebanon, 1952; lives and works in London and Berlin