photo: SAIKI Taku


ArtistMona HATOUM
Material/ Techniqueglass marbles
Size/ Durationdimensions determined by the space
Copyright Notice© Mona HATOUM
Year of acquisition/ donation2002
DescriptionBorn in Beirut, Lebanon in 1952. Lives and works in London, UK and Berlin, Germany.

Mona Hatoum was born to a Palestinian family who was exiled in Lebanon where she was raised. While on a visit to England in 1975, the outbreak of the Lebanese civil war prevented her returning home so she remained in London where she studied art graduating in 1981. Early in the 1980s she began making performance and video works that centered around the body. In the 1990s her work moved increasingly towards installation and sculpture using familiar household objects subverted into signs of ambiguity and threat. The personal and political are bound up in a narrative that explores identity and sexuality against a backdrop of traumatic social rupture, war, exile and displacement.

This large installation work represents a map of the world in which translucent glass marbles are arranged on the floor with no space between them to form continents. The topography is created objectively, and while it is presented as an immovable reality, this map does not show any borders indicating countries. The countless glass marbles are arranged evenly and packed together in such a way that one fears the slightest shock could easily cause the map to lose its shape completely, lending an atmosphere of tension to the entire space. The work reflects the shifting international borders, history, and human capacity for repression and violence that are pivotal issues in the world situation today, as well as Hatoum’s bitter experience of dual exile as a Palestinian born in Lebanon plus her move to England to escape the civil war in Lebanon.