Hito Steyerl (born 1966 in Munich) is a German filmmaker, visual artist, writer, and innovator of the essay documentary. Her principal topics of interest are media, technology, and the global circulation of images. Steyerl holds a PhD in Philosophy from the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. She is currently a professor of New Media Art at the Berlin University of the Arts, where she co-founded the Research Center for Proxy Politics, together with Vera Tollmann and Boaz Levin .
Life and career
Steyerl was born in 1966 in Munich. Steyerl attended the Japan Institute of the Moving Image. She later studied at the University of Television and Film Munich. Steyerl has noted that studying film during the rise of New German Cinema had an effect on her as a student. She was also deeply influenced by Harun Faroki, though she has cited her former professor, the noted film historian Helmut Färber, as having a more direct influence on her work.
In 2004 she participated in Manifesta 5, The European Biennial of Contemporary Art. She has also participated in the 2008 Shanghai Biennale and the 2010 Gwangju and Taipei biennials. In 2007, her film Lovely Andrea was exhibited as a part of documenta 12 in Kassel, Germany. In 2013 her work was included in the Venice Biennale and the Istanbul Biennial. In 2015, her work was included in the German pavilion at the Venice Biennale.
Hito Steyerl’s work pushes the boundary of traditional video, often obscuring what is real beneath many layers of metaphors and satirical humor. Steyerl even went so far as to refer to her piece, Red Alert, as "the outer limit of video" which consisted of three monitors playing a video of pure red, representing Lovely Andrea, as well as symbolizing the extreme danger and lust that had become a normality.
Her work concerns topics of militarization, surveillance migration, the role of media in globalization, and the dissemination of images and the culture surrounding. Steyerl has pushed both the role and the label of fine artist, demonstrated through her tendencies and interests in engaging the presentational context of art. Her work is developed from research, interviews, and the collection of found images, culminating in pedagogically oriented work in the realm of forensic documentaries and dream-like montages.
Steyerl has had numerous solo exhibitions, including:
- Hito Steyerl, Chisenhale Gallery, London (2010)
- Hito Steyerl, E-flux, New York (2012)
- Hito Steyerl, Art Institute of Chicago, (2012)
- Hito Steyerl, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands (2014)
- Hito Steyerl, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2014)
- En defensa de la imagen pobre ("In defense of the poor image") and Arte, control y dominación. 3 películas de Hito Steyerl ("Art, control and domination. 3 films of Hito Steyerl"), MUNTREF as part of the Bienal de la Imagen en Movimiento (BIM) (2014)
- Hito Steyerl, How Not To Be Seen: A Fucking Didactic Educational Installation, Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York (2014)
- Hito Steyerl, Artists Space, New York (2015)
- Hito Steyerl, Left To Our Own Devices, KOW, Berlin (2015)
- Hito Steyerl, Duty-Free Art , Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2015)
- Hito Steyerl, Factory of the Sun, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2016)
- Hito Steyerl, Factory of the Sun, Hartware MedienKunstVerein in the Dortmunder U, Dortmund, Germany (2016)
Steyerl has participated in numerous group exhibitions, including:
- Dispersion, Institute of Contemporary Arts (2008)
- International Film Festival Rotterdam (2010)
- The Global Contemporary: Art Worlds After 1989, Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe, Germany (2011)
- No one lives here, Royal College of Art (2013)
- Bad Thoughts, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2014)
- Cut To Swipe, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2014)
- A screaming comes across the sky, LABoral, Gijón, Spain (2015)
- MashUp: the Birth of Modern Culture, Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver (2015)
- Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art, 1905-2016, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2016)
- Hito Steyerl, Ben Rivers, Wang Bing. Eye Art & Film Prize, EYE Film Institute Netherlands, Amsterdam (2018)
- Lovely Andrea (2007)
- Red Alert (2007)
- How to Not Be Seen: A Fucking Didactic Educational .MOV File (2013)
- Is the Museum a Battlefield? (2013)
- Liquidity Inc. (2014)
- Factory of the Sun (2015)
In 2010 Steyerl was awarded with the NEW:VISION Award at the Copenhagen International Documentary Festival for her film In Free Fall. In 2015 Steyerl won the inaugural EYE Prize, a collaboration between EYE Film Institute Netherlands and the Paddy & Joan Leigh Fermor Arts Fund. The aim of the award is to support and promote an artist or filmmaker who have made outstanding contributions to their field.
Steyerl is a frequent contributor to online art journals such as E-flux. She has also written:
- 2007. Steyerl, Hito. "Documentary Uncertainty," in A Prior Magazine Issue #15.
- 2009. Steyerl, Hito. Art and Contemporary Critical Practice: Reinventing Institutional Critique. Mayflybooks/Ephemera. ISBN 978-1906948023
- 2009. Steyerl, Hito. "In Defense of the Poor Image," in E-flux Issue #10.
- 2010. Steyerl, Hito. "A Think Like You and Me," in E-flux Issue #15.
- 2012. Steyerl, Hito, and Berardi, Franco. The Wretched of the Screen. Sternberg Press. ISBN 978-1-934105-82-5.
- 2014. Steyerl, Hito. Hito Steyerl: Too Much World. Sternberg Press. Edited by Nick Aikens. ISBN 9783956790577
- 2016. Steyerl, Hito. Beyond Representation. Walther König. Edited by Marius Babias, contributions by Thomas Elsässer and Simon Sheik. ISBN 978-3865608932
- 2016. Steyerl, Hito. "If You Don’t Have Bread, Eat Art!: Contemporary Art and Derivative Fascisms," in E-flux Issue #76.
- 2017. Steyerl, Hito. Duty Free Art: Art in the Age of Planetary Civil War. Verso. ISBN 978-1786632432