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Uniting Form, Content, and Context:
Mona Hatoum at the Rennie Collection

by Rachel Rosenfield Lafo


The context of an artwork is critical to its experience. In the case of Mona Hatoum’s recent exhibition at the Rennie Collection, the context was two-fold. First, the works, representing 15 years of the artist’s oeuvre, were installed so that they resonated with the gallery spaces. As one moved through the building, they revealed themselves, feeding off each other, their placement, and the architectural details. Second, the collection’s location in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, the poorest neighborhood in Canada and an area of high drug use, crime, and community activism, was a particularly appropriate site in which to grapple with Hatoum’s themes of danger, displacement, oppression, violence, prejudice, contradiction, cultural differences, and power relations.

Undercurrent (red), 2008.
Cloth-covered electric cable, light bulb, and dimmer, installation view.

Image: © Mona Hatoum, Courtesy Rennie Collection, Vancouver


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