Mona Hatoum – Performance Still 1995

Photograph, gelatin silver print on paper mounted on aluminium

Performance Still - Mona Hatoum

Performance Still, 1995 – Mona Hatoum

In light of current human inflicted atrocities that are taking place around the globe, I decided to highlight a print created by Palestinian/Lebanese sculptor, Illustrator and performance artist Mona Hatoum. I’ve come to learn that Mona performed the piece in 1985 as part of a public exhibition titled “Roadworks” shown by the Brixton Artist Collective in the UK. The artist proceeded to walk in the streets of Brixton barefoot, for an hour, with Doc Martin boots being dragged behind her while attached (more like shackled) to her ankles by their laces. Such footwear was worn by police as well as skinheads (a UK term originally referring to a subculture of the working class before being linked to socio-political acts of inequality and injustice).

The Performance Still, seen here, was printed ten years later creating an almost separate piece in its own right allowing the viewer to see the image in a different context attaching to it a different set of meanings however related (or not) to the original message. The image itself is extremely powerful. The way I see it, the image of bare feet dragging behind the symbol of an ideology of corruption depicts the ferocity of the human spirit as well as the vulnerability of our physicality. To be rooted down to the earth and dragged behind by the oppressor physically, yet have the strength to continue to march towards the hope of a better future is a reflection of the strength of hope and determination spiritually. It is this portrayal of this strength that spoke to me.

Click here –> Interview with Mona Hatoum

Curatorially Speaking:
This piece was on display at the Tate Britain in a gallery where works displayed depict the theme of “Politics and Oppression”. The piece itself is actually not hung on the gallery wall space but rather propped up against the wall as it lays on the floor. The decision to display such a powerful image on the floor, I think, is ingenious! It not only draws more attention to the work but it creates an even stronger correlation between the image and its meaning. The idea of being so oppressed and rooted in a world of silence, slavery, injustice and atrocity is very much highlighted by the curator’s vision of presenting the work to the public eye.

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