Mona Hatoum (1952– ) is a sculptor and installation and performance artist who was born in Beirut into an exiled Palestinian family. As exiles, they were not able to obtain Lebanese identity cards, and so, despite growing up in Beirut, Hatoum always felt like an outsider. During a brief visit to London in 1975, civil war broke out in Lebanon, and she became stranded. Separated from her family, Hatoum continued her studies in London, attending first the Byam Shaw School of Art and later the Slade School of Art (1975– 81). During this time she started to create videos and performances that focused on the body as a medium for making political statements about social discord and division. Her first successful work was a video called Measures of Distance (1988) featuring photographs of Hatoum’s mother in the shower, overlaid with Arabic writing representing the mother’s letters from Beirut to her daughter in London, which were also read aloud and recorded on the soundtrack by the artist. The piece shows the intimacy between mother and daughter, but also speaks of exile, displacement, separation and loss as a result of war.
Back to Authors List