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Measures of Distance

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Measures of Distance

1988
20th Century

Mona Hatoum, Palestianian, b. 1952

Object Type: Photography and Video
Creation Place: North America, United States
Medium and Support: Video/SP Beta
Credit Line: Museum Purchase, Susan L. Mills Fund
Accession Number: 2005.8
Measures of Distances encompasses Hatoum’s masterful convergence of intimate moments with public, political narratives through a variety of media, including video, photography, and text. When she was 23 years old, Hatoum traveled to London from her home in Beirut for what she’d anticipated being a relatively short visit; unfortunately, the trip turned into a painful exile as the Lebanon War reached the city of Beirut, making it impossible for Hatoum to return. During this period of geographic severance, Hatoum and her mother, whose intimate relationship is displayed in this piece, communicated solely through letters. These letters, which enter the piece as text overlaid on the images, are simultaneously read aloud by Hatoum herself. The presence of the artist’s voice, speaking the words written by her mother for her, make this piece touchingly personal. In this piece, Hatoum carves a space not only for herself, but for her mother, and all mothers and families who have been impacted by war and separation. Hatoum succeeds in personalizing the political, which itself is an act of courageous revolution.

--Walker Guinee, December 2018

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