Mathilde ter Heijne was born in 1969 in Straßbourg, France. Between 1988 and 1992 she studied at the Stadsacademie, Maastricht and 1992-1994 at the Rijksacademie, Amsterdam. Between 2011 and 2018 she was teaching as professor of Media, Installation, and Performance at the Kunsthochschule in the University of Kassel. Since 2018 she is professor for Performance and Time Based Arts at the University of the Arts in Berlin : klasse.terheijne.net
Mathilde ter Heijne creates work around the aesthetics of identity, co-creation, collaboration, and dialogue. Her projects explore and create communities that offer an alternative to hierarchy-based culture, looking to the historical and ancient past, lesser-known present, and still-possible futures for more active, equal, powerful notions of what visual art could be. Known for her feminist art in a wide range of media including installation, video, sculpture, and performance, many of ter Heijne’s recent projects draw on gender studies, archeology, and sociology to probe and test the connection between materiality and spirit, with a focus on participatory art as a tool for communicating knowledge and re-distributing power.
Motivated by a contemporary relationship to feminist thinking in which the individual is not limited to a singular identity, but can be identified with a variety of principles and phenomena, Mathilde ter Heijne works performatively with new ideas of what a Western artist could be. In participatory art she finds a political alternative to the avant-garde tactic of adversarial “shock” and the notion of a sole artist presenting a single voice or opinion in a neutral public sphere; instead, she works with others to modify the sphere itself.