Power 100

Most influential people in 2023 in the contemporary artworld


Byung-Chul Han

Thinker - Sharply attuned to the deleterious effects of neoliberal capitalism

24 in 2023

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Courtesy Byung-Chul Han

The South Korean-born philosopher who has made the short essay his own continues his prodigious publishing output – a bit ironic, given that his major contribution to contemporary discourse has been to call out the self-exploitation that he sees as rampant in everything from late capitalist work ethic to social media. That was the message of his breakthrough, The Burnout Society (2010), hugely influential in Latin America, Korea, Spain and Italy. More recently his short-form, aphoristic writing has turned to questions of absence and presence in Eastern versus Western societies: Absence, written in German, is newly translated into English, while this year alone ten of his books have been translated into Chinese. In Die Krise der Narration (2023), expected in English and other languages next year, he argues that humans are no longer storytellers but ‘story-sellers’, our identity packaged as self-advertising. All this astute thinking, and pointed brevity, have made him a regular reference for artists and curators, namechecked in press releases and essays of shows from Beidaihe, China, to Athens, Greece, this year.

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