ON POETRY, WRITING AND RANDOM CULTURAL MATTERS

Friday, 26 June 2015

Mona Hathoum at the Pompidiou

Ha! So Paris gets an astonishing show before London. Happiness all round and bad luck the Tate, you have to wait until 2016.

Mona Hatoum's work, in one hundred pieces here is wonderful. But then I am a sucker for anyone who does things with maps. I recall first coming across her many years ago - the film of her colon, I think as a Turner prize contender - it is challenging and well executed, and here it is again in it's own little round space in the first gallery.

Here are videos (not often enough with seating, so mind your back if you want to watch them all, or make like the 60s and sit on the floor), installations, photographs, drawings and for some reason, some enormous cheese graters. You may groan a little at her terrible punning titles (Grater Divide, and Light Sentence), but there should be something for everyone, except the squeamish. Those not fond of offal should look away now.

Her life story and the exploration of her Lebanese identity and the violent dislocations of her homeland are the major subjects of her work. She uses all kinds of materials including human hair, woven, balled and embroidered with - watch our for the gentle tickle as you walk through one of the rooms.

Her fascination with mapping is displayed in projections on paper, glass beads, bars of olive oil soap and thread bare carpets. We didn't learn to do anything so ingenious when I studied cartography at University, more's the pity.

Not that I could exactly sneak it out under my coat, but the red globe I would happily take home and I admired the craft and tapestry skills of the women who made Twelve Windows.

It's on all summer, so pick a less than scorching day if you don't want to get heat stroke making your way to the top of the building (the exhibition space is air conditioned) and hithee.  Enjoy. I will be doing so many times in the coming weeks.

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