10th Hiroshima Art Prize winner Mona Hatoum

After winning the Hiroshima Art Prize in 2015, Mona Hatoum is now featured in a major solo show at the Hiroshima Museum of Contemporary Art.

Established in 1989 by the City of Hiroshima, the Hiroshima Art Prize is awarded every three years to an artist who contributes to world peace. The Hiroshima Museum of Contemporary Art is now presenting previous and new work of the Prize’s latest winner, Mona Hatoum, until 15 October 2017.

Mona Hatoum, Hot Spot, 2013, Installation View at Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art. Photo: Ken Kusakari. Image Courtesy the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art ©Mona Hatoum

Mona Hatoum, ‘Hot Spot’, 2013, installation view at Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, 2017. Photo: Ken Kusakari. Image Courtesy the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art. © Mona Hatoum.

Established by the city of Hiroshima, the Hiroshima Art Prize honours the achievements of an artist who has contributed significantly to peace through their artwork. In doing so, the Prize hopes to promote art “to show the world the city’s spirit of heartfelt prayer for world peace and humanity’s well-being, and to make a positive contribution to humankind”.

Established in 1989 by the City of Hiroshima, site of the first atomic bombing in human history, the Hiroshima Art Prize aims to appeal to a wider world about the “Spirit of Hiroshima”, which seeks everlasting world peace through contemporary art. The prize is awarded once every three years, and this year the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art presents an exhibition by Mona Hatoum, winner of the 10th Hiroshima Art Prize in 2015.

Mona Hatoum, Remains of the Day, 2017, Installation View at Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art. Photo: Ken Kusakari. Image courtesy the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art. ©Mona Hatoum

Mona Hatoum, ‘Remains of the Day’, 2017, installation view at Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, 2017. Photo: Ken Kusakari. Image courtesy the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art. © Mona Hatoum.

In a statement about why Mona Hatoum was selected as the prize winner, the Art Prize explain,

Ms. Mona Hatoum’s work deals with social contradictions and the suffering of alienated people or political oppression, based on her own complicated circumstances as a Palestinian exile. These creative endeavors greatly correspond with the aims of the Hiroshima Art Prize. Moreover, Ms. Hatoum was chosen due to our expectation that the commemorative exhibition will display new works that will squarely address and deeply engage with “Hiroshima” as a universal symbol.

Mona Hatoum, Installation View at Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art. Photo: Ken Kusakari. Image courtesy the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art. ©Mona Hatoum

Mona Hatoum, installation view at Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, 2017. Photo: Ken Kusakari. Image courtesy the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art. © Mona Hatoum.

Born in Beirut to an exiled Palestinian family in 1952, Mona Hatoum found herself based in London in the 1970s, after she was unable to return to Lebanon when the civil war broke out. Studying at Byam Shaw School of Art and then the Slade School of Art, she was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 1995. One of Lebanon’s leading artists, Hatoum’s practice focuses on performance, video, installation and sculpture. Her work considers themes of social contradiction, political oppression and gender issues, based on her experiences of double exile as a Palestinian.

On winning the prize, Hatoum writes:

I accept the prize with the deepest gratitude. I am greatly honoured and humbled to be associated with the ideals of world peace for all humanity that the “Spirit of Hiroshima” stands for. Hiroshima’s experience brings to mind a very sad and low point in human history. However, the resilience and rebuilding of the city after its total annihilation, embodies the spirit of hope that inspires us all.

Mona Hatoum, Undercurrent (red), 2008, Installation View at Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art. Photo: Ken Kusakari. Image courtesy the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art. ©Mona Hatoum

Mona Hatoum, ‘Undercurrent (red)’, 2008, installation view at Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, 2017. Photo: Ken Kusakari. Image courtesy the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art. © Mona Hatoum.

According to an interview with The Asahi Shimbun, Hatoum found her visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum in late 2015 deeply moving, with its display of personal belongings such as children’s bicycles and clothing, and was impacted by the immediateness of the nuclear bomb.

In this sense, the history of Hiroshima bears resemblance with the themes of shattered daily life and alienation that typify her own work. This can be seen in Remains of the Day, one of five new works now on display in the museum, which shows a ghostly, deconstructed tableaux of six chairs, a bed and a table. “This is the work that probably points most directly to the nuclear destruction,” she says to The Asahi, but prefers not to be too specific about her work; keeping it abstract means that it can relate to many different social issues. “If I was showing this work in London now, people would make a connection with the Grenfell Tower fire,” she says:

I hope audiences will engage with this (Hiroshima show) on different levels, wonder what it is about, and maybe find some answers for themselves, because works do not speak in direct terms and are open to several interpretations.

Anna Jamieson

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Related topics: Lebanese artistsPalestinian artistsart and politicsmuseum showsinstallationpolitical

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