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Although she was born and raised in Lebanon, she was never identified as Lebanese. Her father did not support her desire to be an artist, so she chose to study graphic design in Beirut University and began working at an advertising agency. After two years Hatoum decided to visit Britain for few month. When she got to London, where she chose to settle, the civil war broke out in Lebanon, the airport was closed for nine month and she had no chance to go back home. She worked hard and depended on herself until she graduated from the Slade School of Fine Art in London in 1981.When she first got stuck in Britain, she thought that she was miserable, unlucky, and lonely; she never thought that being in Britain can be a great chance for her to pursue her dream and become a successful artist. 1
Hatoum started her path working mainly on video performance. One of her famous tapes is “Measures of Distance” in which she shows photos of her mother showering coverd by handwritten letters sent by Hatoum’s mother from Beirut to London. In the video, there is Hatoum’s voice reading her mother’s letters, there is also the voice of two laughing women, Hatoum and her mother, talking and enjoying their time. Hatoum commented on “Measures of Distance” that when creating this video, she decided to delve into the personal although it was hard for her to deal with the materials she had she took her mother’s pictures showering during her visit to Beirut in 1981 but she did not finish the piece until 1988. After completing the work, Hatoum felt that it spoke of hardships of exile, displacement, split-up, and harm caused by war
The uniqueness in Hatoum’s pieces comes from contradictories and complexities; she creates challenging themes like violence and cruelty, arises conflict in her work by associating opposites. She was also known for using her own body to create her art; she produced many successful pieces like “Performance Still” which shows her barefoot and walking along the street with heavy boot tied to her ankles. Her feet appeared naked compared to the boots traditionally worn by police. In this video, Hatoum was trying to question the system that makes a basic activity like walking hard and overwhelming.3
In the late eighties, Hatoum wanted to change her working style. She decided to turn her attention into abandoned performances as politically too direct and turned her attention to sculpture and installations in which she was not the focus of the piece instead the observer needs to interact with the piece in order to understand it and feel the distinctiveness of it. From 1990s and on ward, Hatoum’s work turned from using her body to comment on different political, feminist, and linguistic concerns into using her creative mind to build a piece that require the viewers to ask questions, arising their curiosity and critical thinking. 4

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