Hito Steyerl

Artist-as-theorist, theorist-as-artist

It’s ‘like being married to a serial killer’ was Steyerl’s assessment in April of the artworld’s ties to the Sackler family, the major arts philanthropists with links to big pharma and the United States’ opioid epidemic. The artist, speaking at the opening of her show at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery in London, might also have been talking about her own conflicted relationship with the industry’s political and economic interests: in June, Steyerl was among those to mobilise against Serpentine Galleries ceo Yana Peel after The Guardian revealed her financial links to an Israeli cyberweapons company (Peel quit). For all that Steyerl’s work casts a steely eye on the intersection of politics, capital and media – her contribution the Venice Biennale tackled ai – she remains very much in demand. While shows at the Park Avenue Armory in New York and the Art Gallery of Ontario received mixed reviews, this year confirmed Steyerl as the world’s most powerful voice of conscience.