Hito Steyerl

Artist-as-theorist, theorist-as-artist

It’s no surprise that Hito Steyerl was given floorspace aplenty in this year’s Berlin Biennale: the tech-savvy generation of artists it spotlighted was weaned on her incisive e-flux essays interlacing digital technology and subjectivity, not to mention her increasingly elaborate art practice. It’s taken a moment for the Munich-born, Berlin-based Steyerl’s synthesis of lecture performance, writing and CGI-driven video to assume centrality, but this year she was ubiquitous: while her writing anatomised video-games and virtual simulations, she popped up in (inter alia) the São Paulo Biennial, MOCA Los Angeles (where her Factory of the Sun, 2015, a key piece in the last Venice Biennale, was reprised), Madrid’s Museo Reina Sofía and Berlin’s Transmediale festival, where she was a keynote speaker. It made sense, given this swathe, that Steyerl was also nominated for the Artes Mundi prize. It’s equally indicative of her my-way-or-the-highway approach that, at the time of writing, the maker of How Not to Be Seen: A Fucking Didactic Educational .MOV File (2013) had just taken herself off its shortlist.