b. 1952, Beirut
Mona Hatoum was born in 1952 to Palestinian parents in Beirut, where she studied graphic design at the Beirut College for Women (1970–72, now Lebanese American University). Hatoum traveled to London in the early 1970s for what she believed would be a temporary stay. Forced to remain in England as war broke out in Lebanon in 1975, she attended the Byam Shaw School of Art, London (1975–79, now Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design), followed by the Slade School of Fine Art, London (1979–81). At that time, she started to interlace her personal experience into her practice, beginning her career in the 1980s by creating videos and performances that focus on the body as a way to make political statements about dislocation. By the early 1990s, her approach had shifted from politically driven performance to installation and sculpture, emphasizing the formal presence of an object in order to elicit a psychological response. From performance, video, installation, and sculpture to photography and works on paper, Hatoum's oeuvre incorporates a diverse range of media, including metal, light, glass, and bodily material such as hair.
Hatoum's sculptures and installations activate the viewer's perception to create an amplified presence in the gallery space and often highlight the convoluted relationship between desire and revulsion as well as fear and fascination, both in the viewer and in a larger societal context. In works such as Slicer (1999), Paravent (2008), and Daybed (2008), Hatoum enlarged everyday kitchen tools and household furniture such that the object loses its familiarity as the viewer approaches and its scale is magnified to a leering and uncanny extreme, one that at times threatens physical danger. The anxiety introduced in these works is also present in such works as The Light at the End (1989), Current Disturbance (1996), Cage-à-deux (2002), and Impenetrable (2009), which raise questions about the nature of shared social space and investigate ideas of captivity and freedom.
Hatoum was awarded the Joan Miró Prize from the Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona, in 2011. She has also been awarded the George-Maciunas-Preis (2000), Roswitha Haftmann Preiz (2004), Sonning Prize (2004), Bellagio Creative Arts Fellowship (2008), Rolf Schock Prize (2008), and Käthe Kollwitz Prize (2010). She has presented solo exhibitions at a range of international institutions, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (1997); New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (199798); Tate Britain, London (2000); and Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2005). Hatoum has participated in numerous group exhibitions worldwide, including those at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1990, 1994, 2006, 2010); Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (1991); Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (1994); and the Venice Biennale (1995, 2005). Hatoum lives and works in London and Berlin.