Interesting to use Hatoum as a starting point for what could be the beginning of the contemporary (outside of what is largely a Eurocentric art historical trajectory). I have said similar to others when discussing the contemporary, I often encounter ideas that counter this, using her largely European(British) Art Education as some means to discredit her place in that art historical trajectory. I disagree with that view that I often encounter though, at it’s core is a kind of exclusionary politics, but it does shed light on what is always at the centre of these debates and discussions which is like you say, the almost impossible nature of measuring and defining “movements”(a whole different conversation RE what is The Contemporary..?) without taking into consideration the wider sociopolitical contexts at hand and indeed their relation to one another. Regardless, her impact has had a profound impact on both regional trajectories, perhaps even accelerated a shift and explosion in the power and force of the Arab artist even up until today in 2016.
I used to sit in my studio sometimes and play with history in my mind and imagine important artists not making or producing works, like a game of jenga, I start to see the true impact they have had, not just in the sphere of art, but politically, socially and culturally. I think Hatoum’s impact on art histories won’t be fully understood for a good while, which to me means that her impact is still in effect. Interesting insight and interesting read!