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Details
Mona Hatoum (b. 1952)
Silence
glass
49 7/8 x 37 x 23 1/8 in. (126.6 x 93.9 x 58.7 cm.)
Executed in 1994. This work is number five from an edition of five plus one artist's proof.

Other examples from this edition are in the permanent Collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek.
Provenance
Brooke Alexander Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1994
Literature
R. Smith, "Art in Review: Willie Doherty, Mona Hatoum and Doris Salcedo,"New York Times, 11 November 1994.
M. Archer, G. Brett, C. de Zegher, eds., Mona Hatoum, London, 1997, pp. 30-31 and 159 (another example illustrated in color).
C. Vogel, "Stars of the Last 30 Years Shock and Sell at Christie's Contemporary Sale," New York Times, 17 November 2000, p. B4.
H. Allen, "News," Flash Art, January/February 2001, p. 57 (another example illustrated in color).
Exhibited
New York, Brooke Alexander Gallery, Willie Doherty, Mona Hatoum, Doris Salcedo, October-November 1994.
Otterlo, Kröller-Müller Museum, Heart of Darkness, December 1994-March 1995, pp. 123-125 and 186-187 (other examples exhibited and illustrated in color).
New York, Museum of Modern Art, Sculpture from the Collection, June-August 1995 (another example exhibited and illustrated).
Paris, Galerie Chantal Crousel, Short Space, September-November 1995 (another example exhibited).
Kunsthalle Wien and Prague, Galerie Rudolfinum, Engel, Engel: Legenden der Gegenwart, June-November 1997, p. 259 (another example exhibited and illustrated).
New York, Museum of Modern Art, Making Choices, March-September 2000 (another example exhibited).
Vancouver, Rennie Collection at Wing Sang, Mona Hatoum: Collected Works, October 2009-January 2010, pp. 15, 27, 50-51 and 62 (another example exhibited and illustrated in color).

Lot Essay

Mona Hatoum's Silence, 1994, is a sculptural exploration of life's paradoxes and contradictions. Shimmering with ephemeral fragility, the piece is a life-size replica of the bed of a young child built out of yards of thin glass tubing. The delicate tubes of glass are an ethereal symbol of Hatoum's quest to depict the ironies and tensions inherent in earthly existence. Silence is a beautiful reminder of life's vulnerabilities, created as a part of Hatoum's ongoing search for a physical manifestation of the polarities that shape reality.

Hatoum first became known in the early 1980s for her performance and video works, for which she repeatedly put her body into danger or through some sort of an ordeal. These recurring themes can be viewed as an examination of a life impacted by war, a premise central to Hatoum's own childhood and a notion that has influenced and defined her work for decades. Hatoum was born in Beirut in 1952 to a Palestinian family who had left their country just four years earlier. At age twenty-three, Hatoum left Lebanon for what was meant to be a quick trip to London. During her stay, wartime conflict erupted in the Middle East, stranding Hatoum in the U.K. This forced displacement soon became voluntary, and she chose to live as a self-proclaimed outsider in Europe for ensuing years. Hatoum's young life was therefore defined by these exiles, by the notion that she never truly belonged to the places she called home. Her pieces reflect her ongoing search for identity within a world composed of impermanence, fragility, and conflict.

When Hatoum began making sculpture, a focus on the physical vulnerability of the human body continued to permeate her work, often filtered through the lens of Minimalism, the tenets of which she had absorbed as an art student in London, as well as Surrealism and its exploration of the uncanny: "I find it more exciting when a work reverberates with several meanings and paradoxes and contradictions" (M. Hatoum as quoted in, M. Archer, Mona Hatoum, Phaidon Press Limited, London, 1997, p. 25). Silence, with its utilization of a crib built for easy destruction as opposed to long-lasting, cradling stability, is the perfect representation of Hatoum's exploration of the conflicts and dualities that are to her the essence of life.

The materials that compose Silence imply the impending destruction of their whole. This combination of the rational with the irrational reflect Hatoum's love of the gentle humor of Rene Magritte, not driven to despair at the world's absurdity but instead embracing the dualities and tensions that have shaped and continue to define her life. Says Hatoum, "I like to explore the sensuousness of materials and use them to create an emotional charge, if you like." (Ibid., 26) In Silence she does just that, with the utilized glass lending the sculpture an uneasy, brittle fragility, defying a form that represents man's innate desire to protect and nurture their children. Hatoum puts us on edge and makes us question the symbols of stability that have shaped the memories of our own childhoods.

Hatoum's work is like a human body - an indivisible unit inhabited by thousands of opposite forces and impulses. Her sculptures and installations demonstrate not only her innovative formal ideas and artistic practices, but also her own loss and sense of displacement. Hatoum tempers sadness with the fantastical, integrating into her work dream-like qualities that create something new, transcendent, and entirely subversive. In Silence reside Hatoum's experiences, both in life and in art, incased in the fragile shell of tender human existence.

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