This video was filmed during a series of performances con- ducted by Mona Hatoum in 1985 in the streets of Brixton, a working class, predominantly black London suburb. She is seen walking barefoot on the sidewalk, through Brixton’s market and arcades, for an hour. The laces of her Doc Mar- tens shoes, commonly used at the time by the police but also by skinheads and punks, are tied to her heels, hindering her progression, which is slow and difficult. By exposing as she does the fragility of her bare feet against the harshness of the street and the heavy boots she painstakingly drags behind her like a burden, she denounces the violence of social order (at the time, Brixton was subject to violence and riots that were severely repressed), but perhaps also the difficulty and the pressure to submit to any form of “integration”, as well as questions of integration and uprooting. In 1975, Mona Hatoum came to London for a brief stay but couldn’t go home because war had just broken out. This forced exile and the brutal separation from her family that had remained in Beirut will become the themes of her videos and other works, through which she will attempt to “reproduce”, or rather “re- construct” a past that seems to haunt her.
Mona Hatoum Born in 1952 in Beirut. She lives in London. Mona Hatoum’s poetic and political oeuvre is realised in a diverse and often unconventional range of media, including installation, sculpture, video, photography and works on paper. Hatoum first became widely known in the mid 1980s for a series of performance and video works that focused with great intensity on the body. In the 1990s her work moved increasingly towards large-scale installations and sculptures that aim to engage the viewer in conflicting emotions of desire and revulsion, fear and fascination. Hatoum has developed a language in which familiar, domestic everyday objects are often transformed into foreign, threatening and dangerous things. Even the human body is rendered unfamiliar in Corps étranger (1994), a video installation that displays an endoscopic journey through the interior landscape of her own body. Homebound (2000) is an assemblage of household furniture wired up with an audibly active electric current that combines a sense of threat with a surrealist sense of humour. In Hot Spot (2006) and Map (clear) (2015) Hatoum uses cartography to explore instability and precariousness in today’s political landscape.