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Mona Hatoum: video documentation of performances from the 1980s

June 23, 2010 8:00 pm

Don’t smile, you’re on camera! (1980)

Video duration:  11:16 min.

Video documentation of live-action with a video monitor, two live video cameras, a video mixer, and various props at Battersea art center, London.

The artist points a live video camera directly at the audience, panning up and down the rows, very slowly, sometimes stopping and focusing on parts of a person’s body. Faces, torsos, crotches appear on the monitor facing the audience. A shirt slowly fades away and a ghost image of bare breasts appears behind it, creating the illusion that the camera could see through the person’s clothes. In the same way, a shoe disappears and reveals a bare foot inside it. A man’s jacket turns transparent and a hairy chest or a woman’s naked torso is seen through. Superimposed on another person’s chest is the ghost image of an x-ray of the same part of the body. This performance is made possible with the participation of three assistants who are not visible to the audience. Two assistants use a second live camera to scan their own naked bodies while a third assistant mixes the images fed in by the two live cameras.

Roadworks (1985)

Video duration:  6:45 min.

Video documentation of live-action with doc martens boots in Brixton, London. The artist walks barefoot through the streets of Brixton dragging behind her a pair of large boots attached to her ankles by their laces.

Variation on discord and divisions (1984)

Video duration:  27:45 min.

Video documentation of live-action with hood, knife, bucket, scrubbing brush, red paint, table, chairs, plates, raw beef kidney, newspapers at the western front, Vancouver.

The floor and walls of the performance space are lined with newspapers. The performance consists of a series of vignettes: the artist, dressed in black overalls, an opaque stocking masking her face slithers with some difficulty on the floor along the aisles between the rows of spectators into the performing space; she tries to scrub the floor but smears it with red-stained water; she tries to unmask her face by slitting eyeholes through the stretched out stocking with a long-bladed knife; she circles a long table and chairs, and trying to sit down, she falls; she sets the table with plates, then, removing raw kidneys from under her clothes, cuts them up, puts on the plates, and serves them, one by one, to the audience