beirut art center is pleased to present witness, the first solo exhibition in lebanon by internationally acclaimed palestinian/british artist mona hatoum.
mona hatoum first became widely known in the mid 80s for a series of live actions and video works that focused with great intensity on the body. since the beginning of the ‘90s her work has moved increasingly towards large-scale installations and sculptures that aim to engage the viewer in conflicting emotions of desire and revulsion, fear and fascination. her work addresses notions of displacement, uncertainty and conflict through the use of familiar domestic objects transformed into foreign and sometimes threatening sculptures.
the exhibition, which follows a five-week residency by the artist in beirut, features recent work as well as a number of new installations and sculptures created specifically for beirut art center.
witness (2009) (after which the exhibition is named) is a miniaturized rendition in porcelain of the monument of the place des martyres in the centre of beirut. turned into an ornament it nevertheless faithfully reproduces the monument’s mutilation by the bullets and shells of the civil war that it ‘witnessed’. worry beads (2009) is another work that plays with scale. this time it is an enlargement of a “masbaha” or “worry beads” where the beads have been scaled up to the size of cannon balls cast in bronze. another large work, impenetrable (s version) (2010), is a delicate and precariously suspended cube made entirely of barbed wire, rescaled for the space at beirut art center.
the exhibition also features misbah (2006-07), a rotating lantern that looks playful, but the silhouettes of marching soldiers projected around the room gives it a sinister reading. also included is the work 3-d cities (2008), which is made up of printed maps of beirut, baghdad and kabul with cut out parts that create concave and convex areas referring to the cycle of destruction and rebuilding that these cities have gone (and still go) through.
works produced in lebanon present a continuation of hatoum’s work in themes taken up by the artist throughout her career including a new environment of found objects and furniture that have been transformed to create a personal interior/exterior landscape. another work, entitledtectonic, is a depiction of the world map on glass plates that lay uneasily on the floor, as if about to shift. bourj is a steel construction that looks like an architectural model of a building block that already shows signs of destruction. and finally, balançoires are two glass swings with the map of beirut carved onto the seats. they hang facing each other.