Like other artists associated with Minimalism and Conceptualism, LeWitt sought a means of direct and objective expression. He often produced works in series using a simple modular unit—in this case, the open cube—to create hundreds of artworks that articulate the possible variations and configurations. Consisting of systematically arranged rows and stacks of cubes, 13/11 is one of LeWitt’s three-dimensional “structures.” With its complex lattice of white lines and gray shadows, the work is as visually compelling as it is formally precise.
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
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! 1981 Performance duration: 40 minutes
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.
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
Mona Hatoum Corps étranger 1994 (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
– 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
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
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.
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.
This might be my favorite all-star routine yet. I loved the moving prop and how much they danced on and through it. The choreographers were super creative coming up with different ways to interact with it. I especially liked the section after the cube was opened all the way, where they paired off dancing with Robert in the middle.
The musicality in this dance was incredible. They popped where I never expected it to happen. I love when musicality is used to this extent in contemporary! I don’t know why it’s so rare to find on this show, but I’m really glad they’re using it more and more because it’s beautiful. This choreography was so fluid and I loved it with this song. The use of the different levels in this dance was really amazing as well. There was always something going on on the floor and on the cube.
for Magician and Mercenary Revamp + New Pets, New Customization and more! By GM Amelia
Heya Elpeeps! Please try to contain your excitement and
keep calm because the time nigh. We know it’s hard when there’s less than 24
hours left to the revamp of our beloved magician and mercenary. Hold on to your
seats because this is what’s going to happen tomorrow!