Related themes

Migration and Movement

Artists move around the world, shifting their identities, cultural traditions, and artistic techniques.

Maps, Borders, and Networks

Artists use maps to tell stories about themselves and their views of the world.

Routes II

Mona Hatoum
(British of Palestinian origin, born in Beirut, Lebanon 1952)

2002. Gel pen and colored ink on five maps
a: gel pen on map
b: gel pen on map
c: colored ink on map
d: gel pen on map
e: colored ink on map, Installation: 35 1/2 x 42 x 1" (90.2 x 106.7 x 2.5 cm)

Mona Hatoum’s Routes II is comprised of five color photocopies of maps taken from airline brochures depicting flight routes. The maps detail networks created by travel, charting the globe primarily according to movement rather than geographic, national, or political boundaries. Using ink and gouache, Hatoum drew colored lines onto the maps, adding her own hand-drawn abstract designs to the existing webs of the airlines’ routes.

Hatoum was born in Lebanon to Palestinian parents. In 1975, she was on a trip to London when the Lebanese Civil War broke out, preventing her from returning. She decided to stay on, and still lives and works there today. “The nomadic existence suits me fine,” she says, “because I do not expect myself to identify completely with any one place.”1 She has said that she considers the paths she drew in Routes II to be “routes for the rootless.”2

Mona Hatoum quoted in Beyond East and West: Seven Transnational Artists, by David O’Brien (Urbana-Champaign, Ill.: Krannert Art Museum, 2004), 44
Mona Hatoum quoted in “Caught in Her Web,” by Hannah Duguid, The Independent (London),December 13, 2006, 2
Antoni, Janine. Interview with Mona Hatoum. BOMB. Available online at

The customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social group.

A work of art made with a pencil, pen, crayon, charcoal, or other implements, often consisting of lines and marks (noun); the act of producing a picture with pencil, pen, crayon, charcoal, or other implements (verb, gerund).

A long mark or stroke.

A water-based matte paint, sometimes called opaque watercolor, composed of ground pigments and plant-based binders, such as gum Arabic or gum tragacanth. The opacity of gouache derives from the addition of white fillers, such as clay or chalk, or a higher ratio of pigment to binder.

The perceived hue of an object, produced by the manner in which it reflects or emits light into the eye. Also, a substance, such as a dye, pigment, or paint, that imparts a hue.

A term generally used to describe art that is not representational or based on external reality or nature.

Messy Identities
“I’m often asked the same question: ‘What in your work comes from your own culture?’” Mona Hatoum once said. “As if I have a recipe and I can actually isolate the Arab ingredient, the woman ingredient, the Palestinian ingredient. People often expect tidy definitions of otherness, as if identity is something fixed and easily definable.”3