Lot 5
  • 5

Mona Hatoum

100,000 - 150,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Mona Hatoum
  • Untitled
  • welded steel, magnets and iron filings
  • diameter: 78.7cm.; 31in.
  • Executed in 1994, this work is number 1 from an edition of 2.


CRG Art Incorporated, New York
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner

Catalogue Note

"I want the work in the first instance to have a strong formal presence, and through the physical experience to activate a psychological and emotional response. In a very general sense I want to create a situation where reality itself becomes a questionable point. Where one has to reassess their assumptions and their relationship to things around them. A kind of self-examination and an examination of the power structures that control us.. I want the work to complicate these positions and offer an ambiguity and ambivalence rather than concrete and sure answers. An object from a distance might look like a carpet made out of lush velvet, but when you approach it you realize it’s made out of stainless steel pins which turn it into a threatening and cold object rather than an inviting one. It’s not what it promises to be. So it makes you question the solidity of the ground you walk on, which is also the basis on which your attitudes and beliefs lie."

Mona Hatoum quoted in - "Mona Hatoum" by Janine Antoni, BOMB 63/Spring 1998, ART 

Mona Hatoum’s remarkably diverse and innovative body of work challenges perceptions and traverses boundaries, transcending the traditional dichotomy of exterior versus interior. Born to Palestinian parents in Lebanon in 1952 but now living primarily in London, and having exhibited extensively on an international level, Hatoum’s work expertly fuses elements of East and West to form a uniquely innovative artistic language. Composed of intricately arranged iron filings, Untitled acts as a magnificently powerful presence within a room, exuding a sense of ineffable authority. The magnetic fields of Untitled cause the filings to ripple and reorder, creating a work that exists in a state of perpetual flux. Although at first glance the grooved surface appears curiously abstract, closer inspection reveals that the maze-like patterns are reminiscent of entrails or intestines. The visual connection with the human body turned inside out generates a sense of unease, while the organic exterior has a tactile fur-like materiality, which is extremely seductive. 

Since the start of her artistic career, Hatoum's exploration of the human body has been a central theme to her work. Various other examples of Hatoum's work have examined a similar subject.  The most formal connection can be made to Hatoum's Corps Etranger, a video installation created in 1994, in which she used an endoscopic journey through the interior landscape of the her own body. In Entrails Carpet (1995), an installation composed of shiny rubber which, alongside Untitled, packs an undeniably visceral punch once the organic shapes have been fully discerned. Jessica Morgan argues that these works indicate the ideas of revelation and discovery: “Like a mass of writhing life discovered beneath an upturned garden log, or the peeling back of flesh… to display the interior matter, the convoluted intestinelike surface pattern… suggests sudden exposure.” (Jessica Morgan in "The Poetics of Uncovering," in: Exhibition Catalogue, Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, Mona Hatoum, 1997, p. 11).

Untitled is intensely cerebral in nature: further analogies with the interior of the body can be drawn with the shape and patterns found within the human brain, expounding the idea of a form of universal consciousness. As such, Untitled can be seen as being intimately connected to one of Hatoum’s most important works, Socle du Monde (1992-93). Inspired by Piero Manzoni’s work of the same name, an empty plinth composed of iron fillings supports the ‘weight of the world’ on its base; by extension, the circular Untitled arguably symbolises the world itself. As a representation of the potential of human consciousness combined with the indefinable mysteries of the human body, Untitled can be regarded as one of Hatoum’s most impressive and majestic works.