P R E S S R E L E A S E S 2000
February 14, 2001
Exhibition of Mona Hatoum's Recent Work Explores Her Vision of the Domestic Sphere
Show to run March 17, 2001 ÷ February 4, 2002 at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts
(February 14, 2001 -- North Adams, MA) Mona Hatoum's complicated relationship to the domestic, is played out with reserved drama in Domestic Disturbance, an exhibition of 15 new works at MASS MoCA from March 17, 2001 through February 4, 2002. The sculptures, installation, and video were made during a residency at the Creux de l'Enfer, an exhibition space in an old knife factory in Thiers, France. The fact that these works were made in and for a former industrial space of the 19th century makes MASS MoCA ÷ itself a former 19th century factory complex ÷ a uniquely apt American venue for the works.
This exhibition, organized by MASS MoCA with SITE Santa Fe, will be the most comprehensive and extensive presentation of a single theme in Hatoum's work to date. Hatoum's other recent major exhibitions include the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago's 1997 show of her work and her one-woman exhibitions at Tate Britain, Castello di Rivoli in Turin, and Kunsthalle Basel, among others. For it, MASS MoCA has added three works drawn from Hatoum's London studio to the exhibition as it was shown at SITE Santa Fe.
The focus of the Hatoum exhibition is a threatening, yet darkly comical, kitchen implement: La Grande Broyeuse (Mouli-Julienne x17), 1999. Hatoum based this massive black steel work on an old slicer, a hand-cranked precursor to the modern food processor, that she found in her mother's cupboard in Lebanon. La Grande Broyeuse has four discs ÷ each 8 feet across ÷ for different kinds of slicing and grating. Its bowl, big enough for a person to lay in, rests on three feet, and it has a gigantic crank for spinning the discs. La Grande Broyeuse's spindly legs and tail-like crank give it the appearance of gigantic creature, but its scale ÷ sized for humans ÷ is ominous indeed. For Hatoum, the instrument represents the domestic sphere, a sphere she presents at a confusing scale and full of potential violence.
Critics have linked Hatoum's insistence on the dark side of the idea of "home" to her national identity: she is a Palestinian who grew up as an exile in Lebanon, found herself trapped in London during a visit in the early 1970s, and has remained there ever since. The threat she uncovers in domestic symbols seems to evoke a deep distrust of the very concept of "homeland." Another possibility, which will be the core issue investigated in the exhibition catalog authored by MASS MoCA curator Laura Heon, is whether the domestic sphere in her disturbing work is a metaphor for the feminine.
Also on view in the exhibition will be a series of rubbings made during a month-long residency at the last remaining active Shaker colony, in Sabbathday Lake, Maine. Although these rubbings share the subject matter of the kitchen, there is a radical difference in tone that reveals a wistful side to Hatoum's emphasis on the malignancy of the domestic. Hatoum selected handmade utensils from the Shakers' kitchen, such as colanders, knives, and strainers, and placed large sheets of parchment paper over them. She then rubbed through the paper to lift the impressions of the perforations and outlines of the objects, creating a ghostly image. These nostalgic and tragically sweet works demonstrate a longing in marked contrast to the threat that overhangs the other work. La Grande Broyeuse (Mouli-Julienne x17) and the other Creux de l'Enfer works take on new dimensions with the touching Shaker rubbings undercutting their severe tone.
The Mona Hatoum exhibition follows MASS MoCA's presentation of Laylah Ali's Paintings on Paper (November 9, 2000 ÷ January 28, 2001), a show of intimate gouache paintings by the provocative Boston-based artist. Ali's comic book-like figures, genderless with bulbous green heads and a variety of╩╩pared down uniforms, are depicted in the midst of mysterious unfolding╩╩dramas. At first glance her Greenheads are cheerily colorful and inviting╩╩like illustrations from a comic strip or children's book. Upon closer examination though,╩╩the disturbing narratives become clear.
General support for the 2001 season comes from the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation; the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency; The Hauser Foundation; and Theodore and Renee Weiler Foundation
For Immediate Release