Follow the exhibition's different themes
hito steyerl. I will survive
Hito Steyerl’s video installations can absorb you completely. Choose one of the three themes to help you experience and decipher the works in the exhibition. The stops for each theme are marked in the exhibition.
Follow the money
DISCOVER HOW ART, CAPITALISM AND TECHNOLOGY ARE CONNECTED.
What happens if we follow Hito Steyerl’s investigations into the path of big money? It stirs up trade winds. Bullet shapes and holes appear in contemporary “starchitecture”: buildings designed by world-famous architects. Art organizations and military forces then become intertwined in surprising ways. Steyerl pieces together how art, capitalism and technology are inextricably linked. In today’s world it is no longer a surprise that some banks invest their clients’ savings in arms trade, but a connection between museums, ammunition and (weapon-related) violence may sound more far-fetched. Steyerl’s systemic critique takes the impact of running water as a flexible counterforce to such interrelated power structures, following influential remarks by martial arts icon Bruce Lee. The voiceover in Liquidity Inc. (2014) directly quotes Lee’s water metaphor: “Water can flow, or it can crash.” Surf the data waves, follow the money.
IMAGES TRAVEL. HOW DOES THIS AFFECT THEIR MEANING?
Uploading, sending, downloading, compressing, formatting, editing: these are all examples of ways in which images can “travel”. And when images travel, their appearance and meaning will change. In her essay In Defense of the Poor Image (2009) Hito Steyerl comments on image culture and how it is affected by the Internet: “Poor images are poor because they are heavily compressed and travel quickly. They lose matter and gain speed.”
Through mass media, images are circulated at an ever-faster pace across the entire world and continue to circulate in it. Images are also used and misused as propaganda for political and ideological purposes. This image culture hugely impacts the way we experience reality. It is often diffuse or unclear what or whom is represented by an image, and ownership is lacking for the context in which images come to the surface in today’s world. This results in a situation described as follows by the voiceover in November (2004): “Not I am telling the story, but the story tells me.”
Play the Game
ARE YOU PLAYING THE GAME, OR IS THE GAME PLAYING YOU?
An index finger that casually swipes back and forth or a thumb and index finger moving diagonally apart. Many of our movements are determined by the devices we operate. We could ask ourselves if this means that we are in fact being controlled by the people who invented these devices. This scenario becomes a reality in Factory of the Sun (2015): “But you will not play this game. It will play you.” And: “This is not a game. This is reality.” New media technologies extend far beyond the familiar concept of the screen. They break free from that frame and increasingly control our lived environments: they track or check our movements and harvest our data.
In How not to be seen (2013) Hito Steyerl offers us “thirteen ways of becoming invisible by disappearing,” which include “living in a military zone”, “being spam caught by a filter”, and “being female and over 50”. This illustrates how Steyerl challenges the rise, influence and consequences of contemporary media and technology: with humor and criticism. The same work pictures Steyerl herself, scrolling and swiping. Through these tiny hand gestures, but also through martial arts, airplane safety instructions, robots falling or tripping, and complex choreographies, Steyerl sheds light on the force field between control and freedom.