Description: Pin Carpet
stainless steel pins, canvas and glue
1 1/4 x 49 x 74 in. (3 x 124.5 x 188 cm.)
Executed in 1999. This work is from an edition of three. One work from the edition is in the collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Artist or Maker: Mona Hatoum (b.1952)
Exhibited: New York, Alexander and Bonin, Mona Hatoum, October-December, 1999.
Provenance: White Cube, London
Notes: Mona Hatoum often uses simple geometric forms which recall 1960s Minimalism, choosing these forms for their poetic economy and invisible meaning. She has assimilated this formal vocabulary into her creative practice but has chosen to recast this aesthetic language in a strategic new manner. Speaking about one of her recent works, the artist explained that she was "trying to create a feeling of unease to destabilize the space, so that when you walk in, you literally feel the ground shift below your feet". Seen in this light, Pin Rug, is an extension of her earlier performance pieces, and continues to refer to and challenge the limitations of the human body.
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The theme of the carpet is recurrent in Hatoum's oeuvre. It is an ordinary domestic object of a basic form, the rectangle. Whether a mantle made of nails or a beautiful transparent marbles carpet, the materials used by the artist are charged with emotional references. Hatoum views the floor not as a simple surface but as the ground we literally walk and lie on. Metaphorically it may be seen as the land we fight over, or the earth we cultivate or destroy.
Pin Rug has an intensely physical presence. This simple rectangular shape hugs the floor like the squares of a Carl Andre sculpture. Approximately the size of a Muslim prayer rug, it appears lush from a distance, but on closer inspection, one realizes that this particular rug is made of thousands of stainless steel pins. The surface is both inviting and a potentially a dangerous, physical threat. At once, Hatoum is able to addresses the senses as well as communicate to the intellect and the psyche. She subtly creates tension within the works, as they hover between absence and presence, implying a sense of cruelty and threat without exposing its effects. Hatoum ultimately presents us with paradoxical objects that both attract and repel, creating a duality between form and material, body and spirit, reason and passion.