Mona Hatoum: You Are Still Here
Mona Hatoum
You Are Still Here

Curator: Emre Baykal

17 March-27 May 2012
"Bunker" (2011)
Installation view: “You Are Still Here”, Arter, 2012
Photo: Murat Germen
Installation view: “You Are Still Here”, Arter, 2012
Photo: Murat Germen
"You Are Still Here" (Arabic version) (2006)
Sandblasted mirrored glass and wood
82,7 x 58,7 x 3,5 cm
Photo: Hadiye Cangökçe
"Kapan" (2012)
Mild steel and glass
156 x 300 x 330 cm
Photo: Hadiye Cangökçe
"You Are Still Here" was Mona Hatoum's first solo exhibition in Turkey and presents more than 30 works dating from the 90s to the present. Hatoum had also spent some time in Istanbul producing a number of new pieces for the exhibition in collaboration with local fabricators and craft workshops.

Mona Hatoum's poetic and political oeuvre is realised in a diverse and often unconventional range of media, including installations, sculpture, video, photography and works on paper. In her work she has determinedly explored a sense of the malaise and unsettledness that permeates our contemporary world.

"You Are Still Here" focused on the last two decades of Hatoum's artistic production and aimed at making quotations from Hatoum's oeuvre dedicated to a persistent investigation of a broad range of issues related to home and displacement, closeness and distance, loss and separation, surveillance and regimentation by institutional power structures, the endangered and violated human body.

The exhibition at Arter borrowed its title from one of Mona Hatoum's works, "You Are Still Here", which dates back to 1994 and was translated in a second version into Arabic in 2006. In both versions, the same sentence is sandblasted on the surface of a portrait format wall mirror. What appears in the mirror when the viewer faces the work is a momentary representation of the self: the viewer's actual presence is doubled with his/her reflection in the mirror and both sides of this divided self are set in conversation. As described by the artist, the content of this conversation is all about a confirmation of existence and survival. Yet in essence, this reassuring self-affirmation strongly implies a testimony to and a celebration of survival against the odds in the face of unpredictability and potential danger.

Curated by Emre Baykal, the exhibition opened with an imposing work, "Bunker" (2011), an installation with six architectural steel structures selected from a larger set of twenty two. Achieved by the repetition of a single industrial element, the rigidity of the grid pattern in Bunker and the geometrical forms employed in the work are defaced by cuts, bends and burns. The scale of these modules gives them the appearance of architectural models of a future project, with signs of destruction already built into the plan. Installed on Arter's ground floor the work was visually accessible from the pedestrian Istiklal Street, the city's main artery for culture and arts, thus transposing an unfamiliar cityscape into the gallery space.

"Kapan" (2012), an installation created specifically for the exhibition at Arter, continues Hatoum's interest in the grid and architectural references, this time juxtaposing the roughness of steel reinforcing rods with the sensuousness and fragility of hand blown glass. Kapan, which means trap in Turkish, consists of five structures made of steel, each slightly different in size, yet all scaled to average human height. Combining a solid geometry with imprecise forms, and solidity with fragility, almost welded into each other, the work subtly resonates the vulnerability of the human body—threatened, captured and controlled by power structures—as well as one's own sense of inner exile.

Another work inspired by the location and produced in Istanbul was "Shift" (2012), a wool carpet on which Hatoum maps the whole world as a danger zone by drawing yellow circles of seismic waves all over its surface and dividing it into slightly shifted segments.

"You Are Still Here" included some of Hatoum's widely known works such as "Silence" (1994), "Deep Throat" (1996), "Grater Divide" (2002), "Misbah" (2006–2007), "Globe" (2007), "Worry Beads" (2009) and the video documentation of her 1985 performance "Roadworks".