Top Left: Hotspot 2013 , Top Right: Cellules 2012, Middle Left: Remains 2017, Middle Right: Suspended 2011, Bottom Left: Light Sentence 1922, Bottom Right: Undercurrent (red) 2008
(In 2015, these works were featured in a mini-exhibition at the Pompidou Center in Paris.)
All of these instillations are inspired by Surrealism, Minimalism, and other forms of conceptual art. She uses barbed wires, cages, grids, lights, maps, domestic objects, and even her own hair to address the world's issues around family, sexuality, displacement, etc. She uses her own experiences and Palestinian roots to "combine different cultures: She was born in one particular place, settled in another, was adopted by it, and has managed to mix everything together in a universal way" (Christine Van Assche - Exhibition Curator of Pompidou Center).
Mona Hatoum was born in 1952 in Beirut, Lebanon with Palestinian parents. Although she was born in Lebanon, she was not able to receive a Lebanese Identification Card. She also does not identify as Lebanese.
In 1975, during her vacation in London, civil war broke out in Lebanon, and Hatoum was forced into exile.
Her exile led her to delve deeper into the art world and stay in London to create works that make people reconsider their perceptions of their world, especially ones regarding "notions of territory, fragility, humanity, scale and power" (Smith, 2016). Her work mostly focuses on movement, displacement, and entrapment. All of which deal with an overarching theme: refugees.
“The basis of it is a feeling of wanting to be free of all those restrictions, whether it’s social or political, that are always put on people,” she said, “so I can be whatever I want to be.” ~ Mona Hatoum
One of her well known pieces in the exhibition is titled "Hot Spot" and is absolutely electrifying; both literally and figuratively. Hatoum used cage like steel to create the globe with hot red lighting to outline the continents and countries. These lights create an intense environment and sense of danger, which mimic the ongoing global and political unrest that impacts the entire world. The globe is buzzing with numerous conflicts, including the issue of refugees. The harmonious combination of the materials and the space present how the world is “continually caught up in conflict and unrest” (Smith, 2016).
Ultimately, refugees are humans as well, and they will not go away, as long as the world is "lit up" with war, chaos, and corruption. Mona Hatoum is one artist that uses her pieces to help raise awareness around the refugee situation by shedding light on conflicts that continue to leave the world in darkness.