Mona Hatoum was born in Beirut of Palestinian parents. She settled in London in 1975 after civil war broke out in Lebanon while she was on a visit to Britain. She studied at the Byam Shaw and Slade schools of art, graduating from the latter in 1981.
Through most of the 1980s her work took the form of performance art, which she adopted for its 'subversive edge'. She created a series of powerful and confrontational 'live works' in which she underwent exhausting ordeals, or forms of restraint or imprisonment. She also worked in video.
In 1989, seeking a 'more measured' approach, and also a more direct involvement of the audience, she began to make the large installations for which she has become internationally known. These continued to reflect, but often in forms of considerable abstract beauty, themes of threat, imprisonment or suffering.
Hatoum had a major solo exhibition at the Arnolfini Gallery in Bristol in 1993 and the following year was given a full retrospective at the Pompidou Centre in Paris. Her 1994 installation 'Corps Etranger' (foreign body) is currently on view both at the Venice Biennale and in the exhibition Rites of Passage at the Tate Gallery in London. Hatoum has described her work as 'exploring the beautiful and dangerous'.
She lives and works in London.