Fusing an ethnographic with an aesthetic approach, Mathieu weaves connections across ancient and contemporary cultures, in search of what makes us human. Her work, which combines sculpture, textile, photography and performance, reveals an interest in shapes and objects that have transcended time. These objects are interrogated as repositories of ancient skills and traditions.
Her works contain both homages and contemporary readings, celebrating the human hands and minds behind these objects, while exploring their traditions and histories. The choice of her subjects reveals a particular attachment to crafts traditionally carried out by working-class women such as textile work, and seeks to highlight their oft-overlooked labour and skills. Central to Mathieu’s approach is a process of observation and learning developed during multiple residencies in the collections of history and ethnographic museums. In these residencies, she starts a dialogue with the objects. This intimacy and close contact results in two photographs that bring to life the memories these objects hold. The creation of textiles that draw on this heritage and continue it.
Mathieu was born in the Jura mountains to an embroiderer mother and a stonemason father. She proceeded on to study in Paris in the photography section at the École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, graduating in 1984 with an award from Polaroid. After a three-year professional residency at the American Center in Paris, Mathieu launched her own graphic design studio, l’épicerie, that focused on developing signage design, scenography and visual identities for institutions dedicated to the preservation of history and heritage. Such projects fed back into her artistic practice, nurturing her fascination and curiosity for objects and sites of memory.
In parallel to her artistic practice, Mathieu also curates exhibitions as a way to expand her interests by working and showing alongside some of her peers.
You can follow her on Instagram here, and she is a Millennium Images contributor.