Hito Steyerl

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Hito Steyerl
Steyerl in 2019
Hito Steyerl

(1966-01-01) 1 January 1966 (age 58)
Munich, West Germany
(now Germany)
Known for
  • Filmmaker
  • visual artist
  • writer
Notable workHow Not To Be Seen. A Fucking Didactic Educational.MOV File (2013)
Factory of the Sun (2015)
MovementConceptual Art

Hito Steyerl (born 1 January 1966) is a German filmmaker, moving image artist, writer, and innovator of the essay documentary.[1] 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.[1] 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.[1][2]

Early life and career[edit]

Steyerl was born on 1 January 1966 in Munich.[3] Steyerl attended the Japan Institute of the Moving Image.[4] She later studied at the University of Television and Film Munich.[5] Steyerl was deeply influenced by Harun Farocki,[6] although she has cited her former professor, the noted film historian Helmut Färber, as having a more direct influence on her work.[4]


In 2004 Steyerl participated in Manifesta 5, The European Biennial of Contemporary Art.[7] She has also participated in the 2008 Shanghai Biennale[8] and the 2010 Gwangju and Taipei biennials. In 2007, her film Lovely Andrea[9] was exhibited as a part of documenta 12 in Kassel, Germany.[10] In 2013 her work was included in the Venice Biennale[11] and the Istanbul Biennial.[12] In 2015, her work was included in the German pavilion at the Venice Biennale.[13] In 2019, it was featured in the Arsenale of the Venice Biennale.[14]

Steyerl's work pushes the boundary of traditional video, often obscuring what is real beneath many layers of metaphors and satirical humor. She referred to her piece, Red Alert, as "the outer limit of video".[15] Red Alert consists of three monitors playing a video of pure red, and was commissioned to be a static representation of Steyerl's film Lovely Andrea. The color red was chosen for its connotations to terror alerts and red-light districts, referencing the themes of military violence and pornographic exploitation present in Lovely Andrea.

Her work concerns topics of militarization, surveillance migration, the role of media in globalization, and the dissemination of images and the culture surrounding it. Steyerl has pushed both the role and the label of fine artist, which is 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.

In recent years, Steyerl's work has expanded to confront the status of images in an increasingly digital world, institutions (including museums), networks, and labor. Her work has addressed the topic of corporate sponsorship by engaging with institutions, including Drill in 2019 at the Park Avenue Armory in New York, for which Steyerl revealed histories connecting the building hosting the exhibition with the founding of the National Rifle Association. On the topic of private funding, Steyerl has expressed: 'Ultimately, it will be important to move beyond protests against individuals and try to frame the problems more generally in terms of a new charter for the art world: a set of principles that include different aspects, like pay, sponsorship, governance, transparency standards, representation, sustainability, and so on, like a new deal for museums.'[16] In April 2019, Hito Steyerl incorporated an interactive app into her exhibition at London’s Serpentine Galleries, titled 'Power Plants', which used augmented reality to display floating data, text, and graphs around the museum space, highlighting inequalities in South Kensington, London, and erasing the Sackler name from the Serpentine Sackler Gallery entrance as a commentary on power structures in contemporary technology.[17] Steyerl employs increasingly complex approaches to pixelation within the digital sphere, editing, digital graphics, and video installation architecture.[18]

Solo exhibitions[edit]

Installation view of Hell Yeah We Fuck Die, 2016

Steyerl has had numerous solo exhibitions, including:

Notable works[edit]

  • Lovely Andrea (2007)[9]
  • Red Alert (2007)[15]
  • How to Not Be Seen: A Fucking Didactic Educational .MOV File (2013)[34]
  • Is the Museum a Battlefield? (2013)[35][36]
  • Guards (2012)[37]
  • Liquidity Inc. (2014)[38][39]
  • Factory of the Sun (2015)[40]
  • Drill (2019) [41][42]
  • Green Screen (2023) [43][44]


How Not To Be Seen: A Fucking Didactic Educational .MOV File[edit]

In 2013 Steyerl released her video How Not to Be Seen, presenting five lessons in invisibility. These lessons include how to 1. Make something invisible for a camera, 2. Be invisible in plain sight, 3. Become invisible by becoming a picture, 4. Be invisible by disappearing, and 5. Become invisible by merging into a world made of pictures. Many of these methods may seem impossible. How Not to Be Seen is a satirical take on instructional films.[45] Much of the video also deals with surveillance and digital imagery: for example, figures in all black dance around as "pixels," and aerial photography features frequently. Thus, How Not to be Seen becomes a tutorial for invisibility in an age of intense hypersurveillance.

Liquidity, Inc.[edit]

Liquidity, Inc., (from 2014) consists of a video and a seating/backdrop installation. The video includes interviews with Jason Wood, a financial-advisor-turned-MMA-fighter, mesmerizing clips of ocean waves, and mock-weather reports from characters in balaclavas. As these visuals swirl around, a metaphor forms between water and images/money/trend in the digital age.[46]

Factory of the Sun[edit]

Factory of the Sun, like Liquidity, Inc. deals with finance. In this video, which debuted at the 2015 Venice Biennial, clip art people swarm and create "artificial sunshine" for a bank. The video utilizes light, sunshine, and warmth as motifs as it explores surveillance and mega-finance.


In 2017, Steyerl was listed by ArtReview as the number one most influential person in the contemporary art world.[47] In 2023, Steyerl was again listed by ArtReview as the number two most influential person in the contemporary art world.[48]

Other awards include:

Select writings[edit]

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. "The Institution of Critique," in Art and Contemporary Critical Practice: Reinventing Institutional Critique. Mayflybooks/Ephemera. Edited by Gerald Raunig and Gene Ray ISBN 978-1-906948-02-3
  • 2009. Steyerl, Hito. "In Defense of the Poor Image," in E-flux Issue #10.
  • 2010. Steyerl, Hito. "A Thing 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 978-3-95679-057-7
  • 2016. Steyerl, Hito. Jenseits der Repräsentation / Beyond Representation: Essays 1999–2009. Walther König. Edited by Marius Babias, contributions by Thomas Elsässer and Simon Sheik. ISBN 978-3-86560-893-2
  • 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 978-1-78663-243-2


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Hito Steyerl", e-flux, Retrieved 10 August 2014.
  2. ^ "Research Center for Proxy Politics". rcpp.lensbased.net. Retrieved 2016-12-29.
  3. ^ "document 12" Archived 2014-11-13 at the Wayback Machine, documenta 12, Retrieved 10 August 2014.
  4. ^ a b Steyerl, Hito. "Life in Film" Archived 2014-08-10 at the Wayback Machine, e-flux, Retrieved 10 August 2014.
  5. ^ Gray, Maggie. "Artist profile: Hito Steyerl", thisistomorrow, Retrieved 10 August 2014.
  6. ^ "Beginnings – Journal #59 November 2014 – e-flux". www.e-flux.com. Retrieved 2018-07-22.
  7. ^ "Manifesta 5 artists" Archived 2014-08-12 at the Wayback Machine, Manifesta, Retrieved 10 August 2014.
  8. ^ "Hito Steyerl DeriVeD (2008) 7th Shanghai Biennial", vimeo, Retrieved 10 August 2014.
  9. ^ a b "U B U W E B – Film & Video: Hito Steyerl – Lovely Andrea (2007)". www.ubu.com. Retrieved 2017-03-29.
  10. ^ "documents 12: overviewd" Archived 2014-11-13 at the Wayback Machine, documents 12, Retrieved 10 August 2014.
  11. ^ "Hito Steyerl: Biography", Andrew Kreps Gallery, Retrieved 10 August 2014.
  12. ^ Milliard, Coline (December 1, 2013). "13th Istanbul Biennial". Modern Painters.
  13. ^ Sinibaldi, Christian (2015-05-07). "In-yer-face art: the best of Venice Biennale 2015 – in pictures". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2022-11-11.
  14. ^ Arsenale, Central Pavilion / (2019-05-15). "Biennale Arte 2019 | Hito Steyerl". La Biennale di Venezia. Retrieved 2020-01-05.
  15. ^ a b dmovies.net (2013-06-12), Hito Steyerl, interview at Documenta 12, retrieved 2017-03-29
  16. ^ Zefkili, Despina (18 October 2019). "Hito Steyerl: How To Build a Sustainable Art World". Ocula.
  17. ^ "App art — a playground for new ideas". www.ft.com. Retrieved 2023-12-28.
  18. ^ "Liquidity Inc. | icaboston.org". www.icaboston.org. Retrieved 2019-03-23.
  19. ^ "Archive Past Exhibitions Hito Steyerl" Archived 2014-11-13 at the Wayback Machine, Chisehale Gallery, Retrieved 10 August 2014.
  20. ^ Cotter, Holland. "Hito Steyerl Has New York Solo Debut at e-flux", The New York Times, Retrieved 10 August 2014.
  21. ^ "focus: Hito Steyerl", Art Institute of Chicago, Retrieved 10 August 2014.
  22. ^ "Van Abbemuseum: Detail" Archived 2014-11-13 at the Wayback Machine, Van Abbemuseum, Retrieved 10 August 2014.
  23. ^ "What's On: Hito Steyerl" Archived 2014-11-13 at the Wayback Machine, ICA London, Retrieved 10 August 2014.
  24. ^ Exposición: En defensa de la imagen pobre Archived 2014-11-29 at the Wayback Machine, Bienal de la Imagen en Movimiento, Retrieved 21 November 2014.
  25. ^ Proyecciones: Arte, control y dominación. 3 películas de Hito Steyerl Archived 2014-11-29 at the Wayback Machine, Bienal de la Imagen en Movimiento, Retrieved 21 November 2014.
  26. ^ Gallery, Andrew Kreps. "Andrew Kreps Gallery". Andrew Kreps Gallery. Archived from the original on 2016-02-28. Retrieved 2016-02-26.
  27. ^ "Hito Steyerl", Artists Space Exhibitions, Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  28. ^ "Hito Steyerl – Exhibitions – KOW". www.kow-berlin.info. Retrieved 2016-02-26.
  29. ^ "Hito Steyerl. Duty-Free Art". www.museoreinasofia.es. Retrieved 2016-04-08.
  30. ^ "Hito Steyerl: Factory of the Sun". The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Retrieved 2016-02-26.
  31. ^ "Hito Steyerl: Power Plants". Serpentine Galleries. Retrieved 2022-10-21.
  32. ^ "Hito Steyerl: This is the Future". Retrieved 2020-02-09.
  33. ^ Grrr.nl. "Exhibition Hito Steyerl: I will survive at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam". www.stedelijk.nl. Retrieved 2022-10-21.
  34. ^ "MoMA | Hito Steyerl's HOW NOT TO BE SEEN: A F**king Didactic Educational .MOV File". www.moma.org. Retrieved 2017-03-29.
  35. ^ "Is the Museum a Battlefield". Vimeo. Retrieved 2017-03-29.
  36. ^ "Selected Works – Hito Steyerl – Artists – KOW". www.kow-berlin.info. Retrieved 2017-03-29.
  37. ^ "Hito Steyerl at the Art Institute of Chicago". Retrieved 2023-06-22.
  38. ^ "Liquidity Inc. | icaboston.org". www.icaboston.org. Retrieved 2017-03-29.
  39. ^ "Selected Works – Hito Steyerl – Artists – KOW". www.kow-berlin.info. Retrieved 2017-04-11.
  40. ^ "Hito Steyerl: Factory of the Sun". The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Retrieved 2017-03-29.
  41. ^ Farago, Jason (5 July 2019). "In 'Drill,' Hito Steyerl Adds Polish to Images of a World Gone Mad". The New York Times.
  42. ^ "Drill : Program & Events".
  43. ^ a b Oltermann, Philip (23 June 2023). "Out of the shadows". The Guardian Weekly. pp. 52–53.
  44. ^ Oltermann, Philip; @philipoltermann (2023-06-13). "Post-internet artist Hito Steyerl on refusing honours, buying her work back – and fighting big tech". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2023-06-26.
  45. ^ "MoMA | Hito Steyerl. How Not to Be Seen: A Fucking Didactic Educational .MOV File. 2013". www.moma.org. Retrieved 2019-03-23.
  46. ^ "Liquidity Inc. | icaboston.org". www.icaboston.org. Retrieved 2019-05-02.
  47. ^ "power 100 / ArtReview". artreview.com. Retrieved 2020-01-05.
  48. ^ "Power 100". artreview.com. Retrieved 2023-12-08.
  49. ^ Knegt, Peter. "Thinking Outside the Doc Box", Indiewire, Retrieved 10 August 2014.
  50. ^ "Hito Steyerl wins the inaugural EYE Prize". e-flux. e-flux. Retrieved 9 September 2015.

External links[edit]