Power 100

Most influential people in 2021 in the contemporary artworld


Hito Steyerl

Artist - Political statement-making and formal experimentation

17 in 2021

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Hito Steyerl. Photo: Leon Kahane

A retrospective at K21 Kunstsammlung, Düsseldorf, closed in January before moving to the Pompidou, Paris, in May. Meanwhile, summer brought another institutional solo outing, at the San José Museum of Art, as well as almost a dozen group shows. The European retrospective chronicled three decades of film and installation, yet Steyerl has long moved beyond the artist role to that of more general public intellectual, delivering Cassandra-like warnings against the dangers of big tech and ethics-free economics, as in a keynote speech at the Max Wasserman Forum in April titled ‘Decolonize the Digital Sphere and Transition it Towards the Commons’. Attempts to bring her into the establishment in September inevitably failed: the artist refused Germany’s Federal Cross of Merit in protest of the country’s handling of the pandemic, particularly with regards to culture and education. A professor of new media art at Berlin University of the Arts, Steyerl responded to the prolonged closure of universities by moving some of her teaching onto the videogame Minecraft.

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