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The Fundació Joan Miró and "la Caixa" Foundation present Mona Hatoum's first exhibition in Barcelona
Cube (9 x 9 x 9), 2008. Black finished and powder coated steel, 181 x 182 x 182 cm© the artist. Photo: Uwe Walter. Courtesy Kunst-Werker, Berlin.

BARCELONA.- The Joan Miró Foundation and ”la Caixa” Foundation present Projection, an exhibition by Mona Hatoum, the winner of the third Joan Miró Prize awarded jointly by the two institutions in 2011.

Projection, curated by Martina Millà in close collaboration with Mona Hatoum, is the artist’s first monographic exhibition in Barcelona. It includes nearly forty pieces from the last twenty years, with a stronger presence of recent work. The aim of the show is to broaden our view of the artist and position her beyond the geopolitical references that have become almost synonymous with her production.

Through this ensemble of installations, videos, sculptures, photographs and works on paper, Projection aims to subtly disrupt the semantic field that we usually identify with Hatoum in order to open up new possibilities, suggest new meanings and offer a new, complex and fresh reading of her universe and her large and varied body of work. The idea is to shed light on an artist who engages in dialogue with modern art movements such as Surrealism, Minimalism, Arte Povera, Body Art and Land Art.

The exhibition charts a course through Mona Hatoum’s work based on contrasts between different pieces that reveal and emphasise these relationships.

The first two rooms contain two hanging works: the delicate and lightweight Web, which forms a contrast with Suspended, an installation consisting of 35 swings that have the maps of various major cities carved into their seats, referring to the constant flow of migration around the world.

Hanging garden, in the Olive Tree Courtyard, is a wall built out of sand bags from which grass has sprouted. Reminiscent of Land Art, it nevertheless makes strong reference to the constant conflict that occurs around the world. This work sets up a dialogue with Bunker, which can be seen through the windows: a 'city' of modular, steel sculptures that have been subjected to cutting and burning so that they resemble ruins from some violent conflict or war.

Globe is a large sphere, made from bold iron grid-work reminiscent of medieval prison bars. It has its counterpoint in Cube (9 x 9 x 9), an elegant large-scale cubic sculpture built up from smaller cubes of barbed wire. The structure of the work, with its neat modular gridded formation, creates a dazzling optical effect which counterbalances the aggressive nature of its material.

Every door a wall is a light breezy curtain made from voile and printed with an image of the front page of a newspaper that documents a story about border crossing by illegal immigrants. This work forms the gateway into the next part of the exhibition, which includes sculptures that are based on scaled-up kitchen utensils that become menacing pieces of furniture.

On leaving this section we once again come upon a play of contrasts, this time between the incessant movement of + and – , a giant circular sand pit with a motorised arm that marks and then erases its surface, and the stillness of Turbulence, which consists of a 'mat' of glass marbles of various sizes formally arranged into a square.

The exhibition closes with You are still here, a mirror that has these words etched into its surface, a reminder to the visitors of his or her own mortality.

A companion catalogue with a text by Catherine de Zegher and images of the works will be presented along with the exhibition.

Mona Hatoum was born in Beirut in 1952 into a Palestinian family, and has lived and worked in London since 1975. Although she had only been planning to visit England, the outbreak of the civil war in Lebanon prevented her from returning to her home country.

After studying at Byam Shaw School of Art and the Slade School of Fine Art, Hatoum became widely known in the mid-eighties for a series of performances and videos that clearly focused on the body and her own experiences of exile and alienation. Since the early nineties, her work has increasingly become geared towards large-scale installations that seek to trigger contradictory emotions such as desire and repulsion, fear and fascination. Hatoum has developed a language in which ordinary household items such as chairs, beds, cradles and kitchen utensils are often transformed into strange, threatening and sometimes dangerous objects. Even the human body becomes strange in Corps étranger (1994) and Deep Throat (1996), video-installations that take viewers on an endoscopic journey through the inner landscape of her own body.

Mona Hatoum was the recipient of the 2011 Joan Miró Prize, awarded by the Fundació Joan Miró and ”la Caixa” Foundation. The Prize includes a cash award of €70,000, making it one of the richest art prizes in existence. The jury of the 2011 Joan Miró Prize chose Mona Hatoum for her ability to connect her personal experiences with universal values, and her ongoing commitment to human values common to all cultures and societies. Mona Hatoum was one of the first artists to connect arts practices to non-Western realities. In the wake of her pioneering work, the art world has become a much more open and less self-centred place, in a process that continues to expand and grow stronger.

Mona Hatoum has donated the €70,000 prize money to help young artists from around the world to study at the University of the Arts London.

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