Born 1952 in Beirut, Lebanon. Has lived and worked in London, United Kingdom, since 1975
© Mona Hatourm
Mona Hatoum, “Measures of Distance” (video still), 1988. © Mona Hatourm
Mona Hatoum was born into a Palestinian family in Beirut. She originally came to England on a visit and stayed on when the outbreak of the civil war in Lebanon prevented her from returning. After studying at the Byam Shaw School of Art, London, and the Slade School of Art, London, Hatoum first became widely known in the mid-1980s for a series of performance and video works, which focused with great intensity on the body. Since the beginning of the 1990s, her work moved increasingly towards large-scale installation works that aim to engage the viewer in conflicting emotions of desire and revulsion, fear and fascination. Hatoum has developed a language in which familiar, domestic everyday objects, like chairs, beds, cots, and kitchen utensils are transformed into foreign, threatening, and dangerous objects. Even the human body is rendered unfamiliar in “Corps étranger” (1994), a video installation that displays an endoscopic journey through the interior landscape of her own body. Hatoum's work has been exhibited widely in Europe, the US, and Canada. In 1997, a survey of her work was organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, USA, and toured to The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, USA; MoMA, Oxford, United Kingdom; and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, Scotland (1998). Hatoum's exhibition The Entire World as a Foreign Land was the inaugural exhibition for the launch of Tate Britain, London, in 2000. Other recent solo exhibitions include: Castello di Rivoli (Turin, Italy, 1999); Domestic Disturbance (Site Santa Fe and Mass MoCA, USA, 2000-01); and a major survey of her work at the Centro de Arte de Salamanca and the Centro Galego de Arte Contemporanea (Spain, 2002-03). In 2004, a major survey of her work including new site-specific pieces will be shown at the Hamburger Kunsthalle, Germany, and will travel to Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany and Magasin 3, Stockholm, Sweden. Hatoum is the 2004 winner of the prestigious Sonning Prize, given biennially by the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. She is also the winner of the Roswitha Haftmann Foundation Prize, Zurich, Switzerland.
Contribution: Participates in Station 3: The Movie Theater East of Eden, Aarhus, with “Measures of Distance,” United Kingdom 1988. Beta-Sp PAL (color), 15 min. Courtesy of the artist and Netherlands Media Art Institute, Montevideo/Time Based Arts, Amsterdam. The video is screened on Wednesday, October 13, 2004, from 3:30 – 6 pm. “Measures of Distance” is concerned with the artist's separation from her Palestinian family and in particular, her relationship with her mother, whose letters from Beirut are read aloud as the soundtrack to the tape. The personal and political are inextricably bound up in a narrative that explores identity and sexuality against a backdrop of traumatic social rupture, exile, and displacement.