Internal Conflict

What about internal conflict in art?

Sometimes rather than creating images of conflict or creating art that responds to it directly, artists employ conflict as an internal quality of their work. Some artists deliberately create an element of contradiction in their artwork in order to create tension or irony, to highlight certain qualities, or to create unforeseen relationships that allow us to think differently. Through unexpected juxtapositions, they challenge our expectations and perceptions of the everyday.

Mona Hatoum, Untitled (Wheelchair), 1998, stainless steel and rubber, 97 x 50 x 85 cm (Tate)

Take a look at Palestinian artist Mona Hatoum’s Untitled (Wheelchair). At first glance, Hatoum’s sculpture looks innocuous enough: it’s a simple, somewhat severe wheelchair with the necessary seat, wheels, and armrests. But look more carefully, and you might notice that its handles are actually knives. With this one subversion, Hatoum has taken an ordinary object and turned it into something full of potential and meaning. What kind of person might consider using a wheelchair with knives for handles? Could this wheelchair represent the potential dangers lurking in the everyday?


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