Measures of Distance (1988)

Mona Hatoum
Measures of Distance
Colour video with sound
15 minutes
A Western Front video production, Vancouver, 1988
© Mona Hatoum. All rights reserved, DACS 2020.
Courtesy White Cube


Claudia Aravena Abughosh introduces Measures of Distance, 1988 by Mona Hatoum:

‘I was living in Berlin when I first saw Measures of Distance. At the time, the biographical particularity–born in Santiago de Chile to a Palestinian mother and living in Germany–began to resonate. I think that this realisation turned into a base from which I tried to articulate my work thereafter. There are many dislocations in the video that I identify with. The geographical and cultural distance of the languages on the one hand and the temporal and spatial transfers on the other; double fixed image, as with the mother's body and the written text; past conversations (in the mother’s letters); the artist’s English language voice over, which allows her to distance herself from what has already been said. As we endeavour to articulate our present the medium of video allows us to revisit other mediums like photographs, and travel to other temporalities.
I project myself onto the video in countless ways, but what resonates most deeply is the conversation with the mother, a conversation I never had.’

About the work:

Measures of Distance is an uncharacteristically autobiographical work which, Hatoum has said, speaks of displacement, disorientation and the tremendous sense of loss resulting from the separation caused by war. Hatoum was born to Palestinian parents living in exile in Beirut. In 1975, while visiting London, Hatoum herself became an exile; war broke out in Lebanon and Hatoum stayed in England. In this video, the artist overlaid footage of her mother with scrolling Arabic script—the text of letters Hatoum's mother wrote to her from Beirut, which the artist reads aloud in English. This soundtrack is interspersed with candid dialogue between mother and daughter.

This work has been exhibited in numerous contexts and institutions, including Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Tate Modern, London, Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, (all 2016) and Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, Ohio (1998).

Commissioned by: A Western Front video production, Vancouver, 1988

Screening and Booking Information

Measures of Distance (1988)
Mona Hatoum
Experimental | 15 minutes
Arabic and English

This film is a part of Genealogies in the Middle East and Latin America, which explores historical and contemporary relationships between artists in these regions and unfolds along narratives revealed by the artists' personal accounts that provide critical alternative perspectives and insights, decentralising dominant narratives, schools and paradigms produced and affirmed in the West.

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