Wyspa Institue of Art – Gdańsk
16 / 10 / 2014 – 31 / 12 / 2014

Alternativa 2014 is proud to present Abstract – the first solo exhibition in Poland of the outstanding German artist, theoretician and documentary essayist Hito Steyerl. She is a key figure of contemporary art and film, one who views the image-making process from feminist, critical and political perspectives.

Her main area of interest is in media analysis: a re-definition of meanings in shifting images. Her work outlines the relationship between the flow of capital and the value of art, between financial and symbolic capitals, between war and aesthetics. The artist draws our attention not so much to things that we are able to see but to those, which we do not see, which are hidden before our very eyes because of the seductive power of representation.

Here she has again, turned her attention to the hidden layer of an image – the physically existence of a wall structure and picture as matter. Does a picture have a body? What do we learn from an image, which is blurred, obliterated, badly made – rejected? The artist chases her own medium of film as a tool for manipulating the viewer and information. She is also interested in the ways in which the human body encodes and records behaviours and procedures; the body, as a recording and retrieving tool. Simultaneously, Steyerl explores her own history as a person whose life with the camera is a continual return to the questions: What does it mean to make an image of someone, to film them, to create relationships through recording? What does it mean to be in a picture and represent oneself as the person who not only watches but is also being watched all the time.

Hito Steyerl, How Not To Be Seen

Steyerl is continually asking the question: what does it mean to be visible or invisible in a time of recording, scanning and surveillance, when all of our moves and activities are being documented and systematically used, often without our knowledge and/or permission, in a militarised and profit-oriented reality. We can see a collage of various technological languages in her works, along with aesthetics of recording and persuasion, entangling us through a continual flow of capitalised information. The artist sketches the relationship between seemingly disparate domains of knowledge; she can precisely, scrupulously and painfully mimic various forms of communication.

Her exhibition will be unveiled as the final showpiece of Alternativa 2014: The Garden of Everyday Errors shows her latest works, among which are pieces such as: Liquidity Inc., November, Adorno’s Grey, How Not to be Seen, Guards and Is the Museum a Battlefield? and important older work such as Lovely Andrea.

Hito Steyerl, November (2004)

The Berlin-based artist has participated in a number of leading exhibitions of contemporary art, such as: Documenta, Manifesta, as well as Biennials in Venice, Taipei, Istanbul and Gwangju. Her solo exhibitions have been hosted by art institutions, such as: the Art Institute in Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego, the Van Abbe Museum in Eindhoven, the ICA in London and many others.

She completed her film studies in Munich and Tokyo, and earned her PhD at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. She is a professor at the University of Art (UDK) in Berlin and has also lectured at Goldsmiths and the Centre for Curatorial Studies at Bard College. Steyerl contributes regularly to the journal e-flux where she authors numerous texts on issues concerning image theory, including those published in the collection The Wretched of the Screen (Sternberg Press: 2013).