What are your childhood
memories like of home?
I think that's what I
resonated with when I came across
this installation piece
while investigating the art
of Mona Hatoum.
In viewing some of her
work before reading anything
about the artist I found
myself experiencing an inner
conflict. Most of the pieces
I came across were installations
that I found a bit discomforting.
It was the kind of art
I'm not drawn to because there
is a dark side. Oddly enough
that's the very thing that
made me more curious.
Hatoum was born in Beruit,
Lebanon and studied graphic
design there, later moving to Britain
in the mid 70's where she
continued to study art and then
could not return to Lebanon
due to the civil war that broke
"Interior Landscape" 2008
Hatoum's work explores a variety
of themes including politics,
and issues of displacement and
I selected 3 images of installations
that I was drawn to. The top one
clearly referenced the idea of home
for me. While there is a deep sense
of displacement I also connect
to an order of some kind within
the space that they are contained.
I found myself trying to make sense
of it and create a story that I
could relate to so I wouldn't
feel so displaced as a viewer.
The second image "Interior Landscape"
struck a chord with me as a painter
who's done interior landscapes.
This interpretation is quite
different and at first look could
appear quite innocuous despite
the stark quality. When I read
more about the installations
details I learned the bed
has barbed wire surface, the
pillow has a map of Palestine
sewn into it with strands of the
artists hair. The table on the
is missing a leg and on it goes.
Hatoum states about the piece:
"offers neither rest nor respite.”
In this way, the installation
serves as a metaphor for the
state of being for Palestinian
refugees living the longest
ongoing conflict in modern
history.” I imagine actually
experiencing this work would
have a more profound effect on
me. It's nothing close to
innocuous when I let myself
really take it in.
The last work depicted is
called "Suspended". My first
thought was of childhood swings.
But then again there was this
feeling of its not quite that! There
is a darkness that dispels any idea
of joy that I typically associate
with swings and being suspended in
air with a sense safety and freedom.
In that context the swing, as
a subject, alone stirs up a sense of
displacement for me.
The exhibition itself contained
35 swings each etched with a map
on the seat. I'm not sure of the
significance of 35. Visitors
engaging with the exhibit were
not allowed to sit on the swings
but were encouraged to walk through.
The arrangement of the swings was
intentional to create a sense of
disconnection or "geographical
I think the use of color
amplifies the message. Red on the
seat in contrast to the dark
chain link conveys a sense
of conflict. I'm not sure I
would feel inclined to sit
on the swings even if I could
have. Somehow I don't think I
would have felt suspended but
rather a part of something
I appreciate these pieces for
their ability to challenge my
own thinking and awareness of
cultural and political issues
that have far reaching effects.