The Chilling, Anxious World of Mona Hatoum

Tate Modern’s retrospective of Mona Hatoum spans the artist’s 35-year career, and she has made a lot of art. Hatoum’s works mine geopolitics, gender, art history, and her own past to reveal a world that is frightening and complex.

Hatoum’s practice is layered and asks for contemplation. By abstracting the everyday, objects are made distressing, with an enormous cheese grater becoming an instrument of torture. Seemingly innocuous items — hair, cots, a birdcage — induce anxiety, and are a reminder that the world can be a chilling place. We should be shocked into consciousness, furious at those causing torment and pain, but in this exhibition her works are so cluttered that they are partly muted. Simply put, the exhibition is too damn large.


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