Mona Hatoum: Bunker @ White Cube

White Cube Gallery presents the new exhibition titled ‘Bunker’ by artist Mona Hatoum. Three installations spread over two floors explore local geographies, human activity, destruction and conflict.

The first artwork, ‘Suspended’, comprises of 35 swings hung from the ceiling. Each swing encompasses on the surface of its seat a grid street map of a different capital city. The viewer is free to explore each swing by walking amongst them; we suddenly find ourselves being part of a global community. The circulation of movement by the rocking swings creates a mobility in the room, but at the same time one feels trapped while trying to subconsciously escape from this labyrinth of social complexity and agitation. This installation represents the on-going movement of migrant populations and communities across the globe; a socio-economical phenomenon that has dramatically increased in modern times and is responsible for shaping up the contemporary urban status of each major capital city.

The second installation, ‘Bunker’, is a collection of 23 massive steel structures of different shapes, all scattered around a room creating an eerie atmosphere of an abandoned and devastated unknown -almost faceless- city. The metallic skeleton shells are savagely damaged, burnt and cut reminding a post-war cityscape; we walk around the scarred remains and the debris of a city, a violently evacuated and haunted place. Hatoum is inspired by her home town of Beirut and she masterfully transfers the viewer into the cruel reality of a war situation.

The third work, ‘3-D Cities’, is a trilogy of printed maps of Beirut, Kabul and Baghdad with cut-out circular sections (projected upwards or downwards) on specific areas of the cities. These crater-like formations demonstrate the bomb blasts that struck areas during war. Hatoum does not need to directly address politics or criticise government activities. On the contrary, her work reflects a nostalgia of lost worlds once thriving with life and now hit with loneliness and extinction, the negative impact of war not only on the urban landscape but also in a deeper social context. Hatoum’s installations appear as active martyrs of an atrocious reality, a reality that we all hope we shall never witness again.
|Kostas Prapoglou