Artist Hito Steyerl heads 2017 edition of ArtReview’s annual Power 100

Artists exploring radical political models feature prominently

Hito Steyerl. Photo: Tobias Zielony Hito Steyerl, HellYeahWeFuckDie, © Skulptur Projekte 2017. Photo: Henning Rogge Hito Steyerl, How Not To Be Seen. A Fucking Didactic Educational.MOV File, 2013. Video still Courtesy Hito Steyerl In Free Fall, 2010 (still). Courtesy the artist Hito Steyerl, Liquidity Inc, 2014, video still. Courtesy the artist and Artists Space, New York November, 2004 (film still). Courtesy the artist

Artist Hito Steyerl has been announced as number one in the 16th edition of the ArtReview Power 100. The annual ranking of the contemporary artworld’s most influential players is published today, in association with BMW.

The full Power 100 is available to read here and in the November issue – available on newsstands  – which includes contextual essays and features a special artist project by artist Hiwa K throughout the magazine.

ArtReview comments, ‘Art is powerful. Or at least it’s the construct of powerful forces, not always of the positive kind. This is something Steyerl recognises. The artist makes the top slot on this list because she actively attempts to disrupt this nexus of power.’

Steyerl’s videos and installations take cue from historical and political narratives, tackling digital culture and identity along the way. In her academically rigorous writing, performative lectures and teaching, she is doggedly outspoken; critically influencing agendas internationally. Steyerl took part in this year’s once-a-decade, era-defining Skulptur Projekte Münster and her work this year was shown in solo and group exhibitions in Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Düsseldorf, Gwacheon, Helsinki, New York, São Paulo, Turin and Vienna.

A considered analysis of power in the contemporary artworld, the Power 100 is compiled each year in consultation with an invited international panel of writers, artists, curators and critics.

An individual’s or group’s ranking is based on their international influence over the production and dissemination of art and ideas in the artworld and beyond over the past 12 months.In the 2017 edition, artists who are engaged in exploring radical political ideas feature prominently. They are joined by influential philosophers and thinkers, two of whom appear in the top 10. Donna Haraway, whose writing is central to current debates over identity, feminism and ecology, is at number 3. Philosopher and sociologist Bruno Latour, at number 9, has been key to rethinking the relationship of human society to nonhuman systems. Theorist Judith Butler (48) and writer Chris Kraus (77), both of whose work has strongly influenced art’s evolving focus on issues of gender and sexuality, enter the list for the first time.

Pierre Huyghe is at number 2, for work focused on humankind’s impact on the environment, while photographer Wolfgang Tillmans, who has spearheaded artistic campaigns for the UK to remain in the EU and against the German rightwing AfD party, comes in at number 11. Artist and activist Ai Weiwei is number 13 on the list, and Joan Jonas, who will have a retrospective at Tate Modern next year, is number 14. Also entering the list this year is Kara Walker (56), whose work highlights the perversion and violence inherent to American culture, and Kerry James Marshall (68), after his critically-acclaimed retrospective touring the US this year. Gallerists and collectors still hold sway, however.

David Zwirner (5) is the highest placed gallerist – among other activities, his gallery has mounted museum-worthy exhibitions of Felix Gonzalez-Torres and Alice Neel. Iwan and Manuela Wirth (7) extend their model of collecting-as-lifestyle, while Gavin Brown (10) enters the top ten for the first time. Collector and patron Bernard Arnault rises to number 28 – his exhibition this year of the Shchukin Collection at Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris had the highest art attendance figures in French history. Vanessa Carlos(100) debuts on the list in recognition of Condo, the international gallery exchange programme she founded as an alternative to the art fair.

As the most established ranking in the artworld, the Power 100 list and accompanying biographies of the artists, museum directors, patrons, gallerists, curators and collectors featured on it provide a unique snapshot of the contemporary art scene as it is today.

The Power 100 edition of ArtReview also offers an insight into the themes and trends that have emerged in compiling the list, with commentary not only on what the shifting nature of power currently is but also on what it could or should be. Contentious by its nature, the list is as much an invitation for debate as it is a definitive statement.

3 November 2017