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For many who have stumbled upon it, Mona Hatoum's "Impenetrable" (2009) is an abiding meta-phor of the Palestinian condition.This 300x300x300 cm cube hangs suspended some 10 cm above the ground, its density appearing to shift as it's approached. The artist says "Impenetrable" was inspired, in part, by Venezuelan artist Jesus Rafael Soto's "Penetrable" series."Impenetrable" is one of 70-odd works now on show in "Mona Hatoum: Turbulence," a retrospective spanning some 30 years of creativity, hosted by Doha's Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art. Curated by Art Reoriented's Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, the show has a characteristically nonchronological structure, clustering Hatoum's work thematically to highlight formal continuities and shifts in her practice.Hatoum acknowledges that political awareness underpins a lot of her work, but she dislikes being pigeonholed as a Palestinian political artist. The importance of formal considerations in Hatoum's practice is clear as she recounts the gestation process of "Impenetrable," which she created especially for her 2009 solo show at Venice's Querini Stampalia.Movement, along with confinement, was also a theme of the provocative performance works Hatoum took to the streets in the 1980s. The artist herself sees continuities linking her performance and visual art."Turbulence" embraces the wide range of media Hatoum has taken up in her move from performance to visual art, drawing upon amusingly lighthearted work as much as the profound pieces for which she's best known.
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