Mona Hatoum


Mona Hatoum was born in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1952; she lives in London. She first visited Sabbathday Lake from January 17 to 19, 1996. She returned the following summer. In 1998, she explained her interest in participating in the project: "I am a performance, video, and installation artist. I wanted to participate in a community that had set itself apart from the world. It appealed to me to retire from the world for awhile, to forget about art and especially the art world. I think France invited me because my work deals with everyday life. For example, I often use furniture as a reference to everyday objects. Although I am not religious at all . . . , I felt that I could reconnect with the spiritual life side of myself" (Mona Hatoum, in Janet A. Kaplan, "The Quiet in the Land: Everyday Life, Contemporary Art, and the Shakers: A Conversation with Janet A. Kaplan," Art Journal 57, no. 2 (Summer 1998): p. 6).

During her stay at Sabbathday Lake, Hatoum made a variety of works out of her everyday life experiences with the Shakers. For example, she produced a series of rubbings on wax paper, through which the shape of common kitchen utensils that the Shakers displayed in their cabinets are recorded as fleeting tactile memories. These works include Flat Colander, Grater, Large Shaker Colander, Milk Strainer, and Shaker Colander (all 1996). She also produced a work entitled First Step (1996), which consists of a baby crib on which she sprinkled powdered sugar, which fell to the floor, leaving an ephemeral impression of the crib's base. And she produced a spiked colander—a once reassuring kitchen item made threatening with the addition of protruding screws and bolts. As Hatoum as stated, "I was there to participate in [the Shakers'] everyday life. In our work I hope we gave them as much as they gave us. . . . They were just living their life every minute of the day with love and generosity, and there was no way for anybody to interfere or affect that way of life" (ibid., p. 15).