Mona Hatoum was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1952 to a Palestinian family and moved to London in 1975 where she studied art. Her work came to the public's attention in the 1980s with rather harsh and physically demanding performances, of which documents have been kept (photos and videos). At the end of the 1980s, she began to create installations in which she physically involves the viewer, as in her video Corps étranger, now in the collections of the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
Mona Hatoum questions the notions of exile, transhumance, alienation, isolation and vulnerability. The work Drowning sorrows (Gran Centenario), presented in the "wunderkammer", is composed of two hundred half bottles of Tequila that are strewn across the floor, forming a circle three metres in diameter. Executed with great precision, this 2002 work conveys a sense of danger while presenting aesthetic assets (reflections of light in the glass, play of shadows and transparency...). The circularity of the work evokes in a very accurate way the vicious world of drunkenness and by extension that of alcoholism.
This work entitled Drowning sorrows brings to mind the French expression "noyer son chagrin dans la boisson". The title is appropriate since the bottles are cut at different angles and give the impression of floating in water. These bottles can also, in a more optimistic way, make one think of the bottles containing a written message that are thrown into the sea.
While allowing one to wander around the work, the artist brings an uncomfortable feeling and a muted threat seems to emanate from the work. The coexistence of order (the circle) and chaos (cut bottles on the floor) underlines the human comedy and tragedy.