November 9, 2017


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Hito Steyerl is the woman of the hour
The art magazine “ArtReview” listed her as the number one of this year’s “Power 100” and made a statement with this decision: ideas over.
But who is Hito Steyerl? She is a German born video artist, writer and theorist known for her strong political view and fearlessness to challenge the power of the art market. ‘Contemporary art is made possible by neoliberal capital, plus the internet, biennials, art fairs, parallel pop-up histories and growing income inequalities,’ she told The Guardianthis year.
In her oeuvre she focuses on subjects like political theory, migration, cultural globalization and post-colonial criticism. But let’s stop scratching the surface – these 7 facts are worth knowing about Hito Steyerl:

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1. Influenced by New German Cinema

Studying film at the University of Televison and Film Munich during the rise of New German Cinema had a strong influence on her as a student. The period of New German Cinema lasted from the late 1960’s into the 80’s and can be described as the rise of a new generation of directors working with low budgets and influenced by the French New Wave – trying to catch the attention of art house audiences.

2. Let’s introduce: Professor Doctor Steyerl
Steyerl holds a PhD in Philosophy from the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. Nowadays she teaches as professor of experimental film at the Berlin University of the Arts.

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3. Why she travelled with German well-known filmmaker Wim Wenders?

In 1990/1991 she worked as a technical coordinator for Wim Wenders’ film drama Until the End of the World. As part of the film crew, she travelled to Australia, Japan, France, Italy, USA and Portugal.

4. She worked as a bondage model
While studying in Japan in 1987, she combed Tokyo’s bondage scene and sex archives in search of bondage photography. The video constellation “Lovely Andrea” describes her experiences gained in the city’s bondage milieu, where she herself worked as a bondage model at the age of 19 – the pictures inter alia show the artist as Bottom in a Nawa Shibari act. She often demonstrated the interplay of power and submission in different contexts and demonstrating the parallels between the use of power in political and intimate relations.

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5. She is one of the founders of the Research Center for Proxy Politics

With Vera Tollmann and Boaz Levin she established the Research Center for Proxy Politics, which “aims to explore and reflect upon the nature of medial networks and their actors, that is, machines and things as well as humans” – following the wording in the official website of the Center.

6. Andrea Wolf, a former PKK militant, was her best friend
Wolf, also born in Munich 1965, was associated with the Red Army Faction and later fought for the ARGK (Volksbefreiunsgarmee Kurdistan) against the Turkish Army in Kurdistan, where she died/was murdered in 1998. For Steyerl’s film November, an essay-like, feminist Martial-Arts-Film, she played the leading role: a woman in a leather suit on a motorbike. Influenced by the Japanese genre film and later deeply moved by Wolf’s activism Steyerl reflected on the intertwining of actual and fictional contexts. Her symbolic work – the picture of her friend as a revolutionary pin-up – became real when Wolf decided to join the above-named radical political groups.

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7. Red alert – She sees video art at risk

With her installation “Red alert”, which was presented at this year’s documenta in Kassel, she takes up to Aleksander Rodtschenko’s triptych “Smooth panels” from 1921, who stated the end of the art of painting through it. She assumed, or better reinterpreted his visual idea and applied the criticism to video art.
Steyerl used a dazzling red, almost orange, in the constellation – not a random decision – The United States Department of Homeland Security uses the same tone of red for the highest level of terror warning.
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Photos via pinterest, arika.org.uk,moma.org