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Keffieh II by Mona Hatoum looks like a typical Palestinian scarf, but if you look closer, you can see a sophisticated fabric of symbols Keffieh II by Mona Hatoum looks like a typical Palestinian scarf, but if you look closer, you can see a sophisticated fabric of symbols

Mona Hatoum
Keffieh II, 2008

Sensitivity versus message?

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Works of art can convey much more than a fleeting message. Instead, they do the opposite: “A work of art raises more questions than it answers,” is the cliché. These are questions that sometimes cut deeper than their fine casing would suggest.

At first glance we see a typical ‘Palestinian scarf’, then anyone who looks more closely at ‘Keffieh II’ will see a sophisticated fabric of symbols. The steel wire that makes its way straight through it forms a stark contrast to the delicate organza silk. It could indicate the boundaries that are being drawn under our very eyes through this delicate landscape.

Hatoum is of Palestinian origin. That is, of course, significant. We cannot therefore ignore the political associations in this work. Although the thoughts and feelings that the Keffiyeh evokes are also distinct from the conflicts in the Middle East, they are topical to say the least.

Hatoum's visual language is therefore more for our body than for our mind: we can well imagine that touching wire gives us goose bumps while the silk scarf gives us a feeling of comfort or security. Sensitivity and expressiveness go hand in hand in this work.