basement gallery

Mona Hatoum: Familiarly unfamiliar, powerfully playful

Mona Hatoum @ Tate Modern until 21 August 2016

Hatoum views and reviews the world, our world. Humanity, fragility, vulnerability, utility, existentiality. Hatoum’s world is reductive, unstable, simultaneously occupying and preoccupied by, liminal spaces. Trust nothing and no one; do not trust the feeling of distrust… “the feeling of not being able to take anything for granted, even doubting the solidarity of the ground you walk on.” As Hatoum describes in an interview in 1997.

Mona Hatoum Socle Du Monde, 1992-1993 © Mona Hatoum. Courtesy White Cube Gallery

 Opening with Hatoum’s furry mammoth sculpture Socle Du Monde, 1992-3, we are already confronted by the vulnerability, untouchability, unmoveability of her work, especially the sculptural pieces. These works which exist on a knife edge, steel shavings cling tightly to the surface of a cube, they form uncontrollable, beautiful patterns which weave like inside out intestines, choking the form they are attracted to by a magnet. This work summarises Hatoum’s marrying of the visual languages of both surrealism and minimalism (for which one imagines a cube as the pin up!).

What is immediately striking, on entry to the exhibition, is the persistent buzz. In volume it varies, but it’s presence is undeniable, unignorable, unnerving. But nothing can be taken for granted, appearances are deceptive, Hatoum has built a practice from surrealist principle, double entendre, suggestion and smoke and mirrors all play their part. I’m thinking Meret Oppenheim’s Object (Le Déjeuner en fourrure) or, in the common tongue, ‘Fur Cup’, conjured perhaps due the pelagic connotations of Socle Du Monde or her use of real hair, albeit human as opposed to animal. I might further categorize Hatoum as a surrealist for like Oppenheim she combines certain eroticism with domesticity, a visual pun is implied, and the incongruity and impracticability of elements is highlighted.

Typically I am drawn to the bodily performances. As well represented as they are, I still yearn for their reenaction within this white cube space. The documentation, as interesting as it is, is cold and inscrutable. Considering this artist has objectified her audience for years I leave feeling unobjectified, and this, for once is a disappointment! The art work demands involvement from the viewer; physical and emotional. Frustratingly we are offered a kind of faux accessibility. We are offered the idea and the concept but it seems impotent in this cathedral of art.

Mona Hatoum Look No Body!
 Performance duration: 40 minutes

Live action with video monitor, sound tape, water hose and a stack of plastic cups 
Performed at The Basement Gallery. Courtesy White Cube

Hatoum seems quite preoccupied visions and notions of inside and out. In 1981’s  Look No Body Hatoum plays with notions of intimacy and privacy, preoccupied with bodily boundaries:          “…it’s just that often I wonder where my body ends… I mean what my boundaries are… whether it’s the skin… what’s about things like hair and nails, and you know, things that come out of the body in the form of urine, faeces, blood…where does it actually end?”   For the artist, the body is not only a fascinating subject, but a resource to be mined for materials (hair, bodily fluids), exposing it’s vulnerability and resilience.

There are difficulties in presenting art work of a performance genre, however these challenges aren’t apparent here. Performative works are represented by photographic or video documentation, detailed textual descriptions and accompanying diagrams (more formalized, considered and methodical than mere sketches). A truly formal, multi media presentation, varied and exciting despite it’s achromicity, save the occasional splashes of red. Red the colour of artists’. The colour of Anish Kapoor. The colour of Louise Bourgeois. The colour of Mona Hatoum.

Under Siege 1983, Hatoum enacts a ritual sculptural undoing. “A human figure reduced to a form covered in clay, trapped, confined within a small structure, struggling to stand up again and again … slipping and falling again and again…” the artist battling, struggling to survive, watched by voyeurs in the gallery who stand beyond the plastic sheet cubicle erected around her, a curtain, boundary, physical and psychological.

Mona Hatoum Under Siege, 1983.

By far my favorite work is Corps etranger. I like the concept, the execution, the presentation. We observe and are observed, the projection is an eye. It is fantastical, navigation through imagination, penetration. The viewer enters the womb, or cocoon, through a small gap, the video, installed within the floor, is sucking us inside. Its dark and we are in another world, we are inside, and in this place I do not feel claustrophobic, but comforted. And I am close to another human, so close I can see inside them. It is so intimate, I am seeing their unseen, their internal is external. It is so personal yet so universal, familiar, I could be seeing inside myself, Corps etranger is a mirror. After an initial sweeping survey of the body’s exterior, the skin is penetrated and we follow the camera probing through various orifices, objectified, invaded. I feel myself mesmerized, constantly ‘waiting for the drop’. Although violently invasive it is also gloriously calming, the seas of liquid washing the over camera, exposing new vistas of bodily matter, “You feel like you are on the edge of an abyss that can swallow you up, the devouring womb, the vagina dentate, castration anxiety…”  

Mona Hatoum Corps étranger
 (350 x 300 x 300 cm)
Video installation with cylindrical wooden structure, video projector, video player, amplifier and four speakers
Photo: Philippe Migeat. Courtesy White Cube Gallery

Hatoum assumes a literal closeness and implied distance from her audience, especially in her performative works. Video/Performance 1980 is highly confrontation and reminiscent of Vallie EXPORT’s Touch Cinema. The artist faces away from her audience and points a camera at herself, employing the method of synchronized camera and projection, a monitor shows her body as if it were unclothed. Using this forced voyeurism

Untitled – Drawing materials, made from Hatoum’s own body, using her skin, her hair, her nails, mixed with pulp. Human imperfections are elevated to masterpiece status, bodily detritus, usually discarded thoughtlessly is collected, revered and reinvented, creating a beautiful monument to the artist, subtle unconscious marks made by the body, embedded in new skins.

Mona Hatoum Untitled, drawing materials 

And finally I’m upon Homebound and the source of the threatening buzz is revealed as a disappointment. I notice the noise has not been continuous but ebbing and edging up to the point of orgasm, before it peters out, unsatisfied, spent. But the tension is built and thus the impuissance of the installation is rendered immaterial. I don’t hear it beyond this point in the exhibition. An apparition materialized and vanquished.

The Murano glass grenades (Natura Morta, 2012) are of course abhorrently beautiful, glittering like Christmas ornaments, so desirable, so antithetical, a guilty pleasure. Lots of the objects appear to quite ‘Freudian’, in that they wouldn’t be out of place on the psychoanalyst’s desk. Hatoum poses notions of the familiar against the uncanny. There is horror in beauty and beauty in horror. I am overcome with conflicting emotions of desire and revulsion, fear and fascination. And I know I am playing into her hands.

Mona Hatoum, Natura Morta, 2012, Murano glass and medical cabinet. Courtesy GALLERIA CONTINUA.

The refusal to display the works chronologically results in a more unified presentation of Hatoum’s whole practice. The works are not allowed to cluster by genre and as a result they are afforded space. Within these spaces meaning is allowed to develop, and their resilient, unrelenting nature causes them to restrict the viewer, oppressing them and instigating anxiety nightmares or suggesting sinister happenings.

Hot Spot, is the showpiece it promises to be, I pace, trying to resist it, while I try (unsuccessfully) to look at the other pieces in the room, the beguiling abaca Projection, 2006, for instance. I then circle it’s orange glow, attracted like a bug to an ultraviolet fly trap. I stare at it and away and everything else in the room appears in a haze of blue. The hot orange ‘vibrates’, as I am simultaneously attracted and repelled. I admit I leave satisfied, as Hatoum has directed an unmitigated episode, involving body, senses, mind, emotions and imagination. But ultimately, as in Hot Spot, the world is a cage.

Mona Hatoum Hot Spot III 2009 © Mona Hatoum. Photo: Agostino Osio Courtesy Fondazione Querini Onlus, Venice

Review by Alison Humphrey

All About Us

Title: All About Us

Pairing: Reader x Cas

Word Count: 1,934

Theme song: All About Us by He Is We feat. Owl City

Requests: I was wondering if you could do a request with CasxReader based on the song All About Us by He Is We featuring Owl City? (you can take it whatever way you like I just know you could make it so cute)

please could you write something similar to I Don’t Dance but for Cas maybe? i think it would be really cute, especially since hes an angel and rarely does anything human if you know what i mean?

Originally posted by eleluthyia


Your name: submit What is this?

The sparkle of bubbles in champagne glasses and the jeweled fingers holding them glinted at the corners of your eyes; chatter filled the air and mingled with the delicate scrape of forks on china. The plates of food, which smelled as delicious as they looked, had cost a hundred dollars a head; a meal you nor none of your group had partaken of.

“Four hundred bucks for a tiny ass portion of duck with brown crap drizzled on it? We could all buy out a burrito truck and still spend three nights in the nicest hotel we find for that much. Pass,” Dean had said when he’d read the flyer for the charity event. Still, you’d all needed to be there, eating or not.

“Do you think we should check on them?” you asked Cas, eyes roving the room for sign of Sam or Dean.

“They’ll signal us if they need help. They still have time,” he replied. You nodded and finally let your eyes land on him, and you reached out, unthinking, for his tie.

“You look nice tonight, Cas. Did I tell you that yet?” You straightened the Windsor knot of his navy blue tie, just slightly, and his face softened at the gesture.

“I think so,” he said. He stared at you a moment longer but there was a sudden change in the room, of movement and glasses being put down. Couples were rising from their tables, not all of them, but some, as the woman who had run the earlier auction announced that dancing was beginning and a soft tune began to lilt in the air.

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Jean-Michel Basquiat (December 22, 1960 – August 12, 1988) was an American artist who began his career creating graffiti art in the Lower East Side of ManhattanNew York City in the late 1970s. By the 1980s he was exhibiting his Neo-expressionist and Primitivist paintings in galleries and museums internationally, but he died of a heroin overdose at the age of 27 in 1988. In 1992 the Whitney Museum of American Art held a retrospective of his art.

Basquiat’s art focused on “suggestive dichotomies,” such as wealth versus poverty, integration versus segregation, and inner versus outer experience. He appropriated poetry, drawing and painting, and married text and image, abstraction and figuration, and historical information mixed with contemporary critique.

Basquiat used social commentary in his paintings as a “springboard to deeper truths about the individual”, as well as attacks on power structures and systems of racism, while his poetics were acutely political and direct in their criticism of colonialism and support for class struggle.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, born in Brooklyn, New York, was the second of four children of Matilda Andrades (July 28, 1934 – November 17, 2008) and Gerard Basquiat (born 1930). He had two younger sisters: Lisane, born in 1964, and Jeanine, born in 1967.

His father, Gerard Basquiat, was born in Port-au-PrinceHaiti, and his mother, Matilde Basquiat, of Afro-Puerto Rican descent, was born in Brooklyn, New York. Matilde instilled a love for art in her young son by taking him to art museums in Manhattan and enrolling him as a junior member of the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Basquiat was a precocious child who learned how to read and write by age four and was a gifted artist. His teachers noticed his artistic abilities, and his mother encouraged her son’s artistic talent. By the age of 11, Basquiat could fluently speak, read and write French, Spanish, and English.

In September 1968, when Basquiat was about 8, he was hit by a car while playing in the street. His arm was broken and he suffered several internal injuries, and he eventually underwent a splenectomy. While he was recuperating from his injuries, his mother brought him the Gray’s Anatomy book to keep him occupied. This book would prove to be influential in his future artistic outlook. His parents separated that year and he and his sisters were raised by their father. The family resided in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, for five years, then moved to San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1974. After two years, they returned to New York City.

When he was 11, his mother was committed to a mental institution and thereafter spent time in and out of institutions. At 15, Basquiat ran away from home. He slept on park benches inWashington Square Park, and was arrested and returned to the care of his father within a week.

Basquiat dropped out of Edward R. Murrow High School in the tenth grade. His father banished him from the household and Basquiat stayed with friends in Brooklyn. He supported himself by selling T-shirts and homemade post cards.

In 1976, Basquiat and friend Al Diaz began spray-painting graffiti on buildings in Lower Manhattan, working under the pseudonym SAMO. The designs featured inscribed messages such as “Plush safe he think.. SAMO” and “SAMO as an escape clause”. In 1978, Basquiat worked for the world famous Unique Clothing Warehouse, in their art department, at 718 Broadway in NoHo and at night he became “SAMO[14]” painting his original graffiti art on neighborhood buildings. Harvey discovered Basquiat painting a building one night, they became friends, and Harvey offered him a day job. On December 11, 1978, the Village Voicepublished an article about the graffiti. When Basquiat & Diaz ended their friendship, The SAMO project ended with the epitaph “SAMO IS DEAD,” inscribed on the walls of SoHo buildings in 1979.

In 1979, Basquiat appeared on the live public-access television cable TV show TV Party hosted by Glenn O'Brien, and the two started a friendship. Basquiat made regular appearances on the show over the next few years. That same year, Basquiat formed the noise rock band Test Pattern – which was later renamed Gray – which played at Arleen Schloss´s open space, “Wednesdays at A`s”, where in October 1979 Basquiat showed, among others, his SAMO color Xerox work.

Gray also consisted of Shannon Dawson, Michael Holman, Nick Taylor, Wayne Clifford and Vincent Gallo, and the band performed at nightclubs such asMax’s Kansas CityCBGBHurrah, and the Mudd Club. In 1980, Basquiat starred in O'Brien's independent film Downtown 81, originally titled New York Beat. That same year, Basquiat met Andy Warhol at a restaurant. Basquiat presented to Warhol samples of his work, and Warhol was stunned by Basquiat’s genius and allure. The men later collaborated. Downtown 81 featured some of Gray’s recordings on its soundtrack. Basquiat also appeared in the Blondie music video “Rapture” as a nightclub disc jockey.

The early 1980s were Basquiat’s breakthrough as a solo artist. In June 1980, Basquiat participated in The Times Square Show, a multi-artist exhibition sponsored by Collaborative Projects Incorporated (Colab) and Fashion Moda. In September of the same year, Basquiat joined the Annina Nosei gallery and worked in a basement below the gallery toward his first one-man show, which took place in March 1981 with great success (helping him prepare the show was Joe La Placa, who soon became a partner with Guillaume Gallozzi in the Gallozzi-La Placa Gallery, a promoter of Basquiat and other graffiti luminaries). In late 1981, Rene Ricard published “The Radiant Child” in Artforum magazine, which brought Basquiat to the attention of the art world.

From November 1982, Basquiat worked from the ground-floor display and studio space Larry Gagosian had built below his Venice home and commenced a series of paintings for a 1983 show, his second at Gagosian Gallery, then in West Hollywood. During this time he took considerable interest in the work thatRobert Rauschenberg was producing at Gemini G.E.L. in West Hollywood, visiting him on several occasions and finding inspiration in the accomplishments of the painter. In 1982, Basquiat also worked briefly with musician and artist David Bowie.

In 1983, Basquiat produced a 12" rap single featuring hip-hop artists Rammellzee and K-Rob. Billed as Rammellzee vs. K-Rob, the single contained two versions of the same track: “Beat Bop” on side one with vocals and “Beat Bop” on side two as an instrumental. The single was pressed in limited quantities on the one-off Tartown Record Company label. The single’s cover featured Basquiat’s artwork, making the pressing highly desirable among both record and art collectors.

At the suggestion of Swiss dealer Bruno Bischofberger, Warhol and Basquiat worked on a series of collaborative paintings between 1983 and 1985. In the case of Olympic Rings (1985), Warhol made several variations of the Olympic five-ring symbol, rendered in the original primary colors. Basquiat responded to the abstract, stylized logos with his oppositional graffiti style.

Basquiat often painted in expensive Armani suits and would even appear in public in the same paint-splattered suits.

By 1986, Basquiat had left the Annina Nosei gallery, and was showing in the famous Mary Boone gallery in SoHo. On February 10, 1985, he appeared on the cover of The New York Times Magazinein a feature entitled “New Art, New Money: The Marketing of an American Artist”.[27] He was a successful artist in this period, but his growing heroin addiction began to interfere with his personal relationships.

When Andy Warhol died on February 22, 1987, Basquiat became increasingly isolated, and his heroin addiction and depression grew more severe. Despite an attempt at sobriety during a trip to Maui, Hawaii, Basquiat died on August 12, 1988, of a heroin overdose at his art studio in Great Jones Street in New York City's NoHo neighborhood. He was 27.

Basquiat was interred in Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery.

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The Beautiful Disaster

One week; 7 days, 168 hours, 10.080 excruciating minutes. An interval Clementine almost couldn’t bear. Time was passing slowly, sluggishly like the movements of attempting to chew stringy meat. She absolutely hated it. No one could fill the vacancy in her heart that diffused in every pore of her body since the day her sister was executed.  She didn’t know how, but  she had found a way to feel the least bit of emotion. The worst part was that there wasn’t even a decent reason for it to happen. Clementine thought there was actually an improvement regarding to her sister’s curiosity, or at least her stopping from trying to get answers as to why they couldn’t feel but she was making this figment up to reassure herself.  To act like everything was going to be alright. “You idiot, Clementine.” She muttered through gritted teeth in a strident pitch as her mocha orbs reflected a picture of a happy couple, glancing at each other in absolute admiration. Sometimes it made her want to smile, to think that she wasn’t the only one clinging to hope. But she couldn’t in which she hadn’t.

Inside the manor, the walls were wainscoted gray marble; the floors covered in dark tile; the fourteen-foot ceiling of the first floor presented in pressed tin. The dark colors and gabled windows gave the mansion a mysterious, gothic, feel. Through the Entrance Lobby led a hallway, which led to a subsequent lobby comprised of three sets of double doors facing south, east, and west, which lead to the dining room, basement, and picture gallery—which was casually used as a billiard room for company—respectively. The kitchen also communicated to another set of double doors which led outside, towards the separate kitchen and servant’s quarters, which was comprised of a small, one story stone cabin. In the basement, a large library formed an inner apartment connected to the drawing room of the same dimensions. Clementine sauntered towards his fathers office, completed documents in hand.

Clementine sauntered around the manor, still amazed each time she came in. She was late, but hoped that his father was still around. Her family, the Freyson’s, have been working for this family quite some time now. They worked for the 'Order,’ a government group that had run the whole system, but their family was by far the most educated. In which after much convincing and proving loyalty, their family was welcomed with open arms. Though everyone was weary of the lower class, even them. Clementine made her way up the steps, an exasperated sigh surpassing her lips. Her fingers curled into a first, knocking on the door as she quirked a brow. “Hello?” she said, opening the door and caught sight of him, instead. “I see you’ve set aside this time to make yourself present. Where’s your father, I wanted to meet him.” Though Clementine had already known he wasn’t here, in which she contemplated going back home.