Video Analysis Of Mona Hatoum's Body

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Corp Etranger (1994) is a video piece made by Mona Hatoum which explores the artists body with an endoscopic camera. The piece is composed of a cylindrical room with padded walls where the viewer is invited to enter and view the video of Hatoum’s internal body, displayed on the floor of the room. Using Kristeva’s strategy of abjection the internal cavities are magnified and distorted into a grotesque monster that have the effect of swallowing up the viewer. ”The symbolisation of the womb as house/room/cellar.” (Creed, 1993, p.55) The work is accompanied by an echograph of Hatoum’s breathing and heart beat, enveloping the viewer through all there senses. “I didn’t want my work to be one dimensional in the sense that it just appeals to the intellect.…show more content…
Hatoum’s body is transformed from a recognisable human beings body into an “unfamiliar and soulless territory” (Adolph, 2004, p.48) In religious culture the unrecognisable body is completely abject because it signifies the opposite of the spiritual. The disfigured body is a religious abomination. The female body can be looked at in two ways in relation the abject as inside/outside. It can be looked at in relation to God’s will and to the desire of the flesh. Here Hatoum magnifies the evil inside of the female body and viewer becomes it’s prisoner. “The definition of sin/abjection as something which comes from within opens up the way to position woman as deceptively treacherous. She may appear pure and beautiful on the outside but evil may, nevertheless, reside within.” (Creed, 1993, p.42) The viewer stands staring down into the abyss of her body that dangerously hints at eating them up.In Christian art hell is often depicted as a womb ”a lurid and rotting uterus where sinners were perpetually tortured for their crimes.” (Miles, 1989, p.147) Denoting that of the Monstrous feminine, the piece can been seen to represent the fears of a patriarchal society. By reclaiming and re appropriating this religious image of women, Hatoum subverts and challenges this patriarchal society and its socially constructed gender. Claiming it…show more content…
"Art of embroidery once the most valued form..was progressively de-professionalised, domesticated and feminised, exposed both the relativity of cultural valuations and intimacy between value and gender," (Pollock, 1988, p.25) By using a domesticated and feminised art like weaving, an art devalued because of its gender association, the absence of a body, and the long strands of hair encroaching on the viewer Hatoum’s piece makes the connection between the physical senses and sociocultural experience of confinement and restriction. In Islam the female body is a dangerous threat to established order where patriarchy is the oppressor. The lack of a body in the piece represents the socially oppressed body and puts the audience in its place. Acknowledging the stereotypes put onto the ‘other’ and subverting them to form new identities and reclaim otherness as a position of power. “This is a response from the radical space of my marginality. It is a space of resistance. It is a space I choose.” (Hooks, 1990, p343) Hatoum’s sculptures and installations can be understood through the abject and the monstrous feminine to question social constraints on women. Hatoum recognises the strength and the insight the marginalised

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