Hito Steyerl

Artist-as-theorist, theorist-as-artist

When Steyerl exhibited alongside Martha Rosler at Kunstmuseum Basel in May, the pairing made instinctive sense. Both are format-agnostic discerners of links between politics and mass media, exposers of invisible structures of influence and subjugation. Lecturing at Yale this year, Steyerl characterised virtual reality platforms as ‘a training scheme to adapt humans to a world from which they are increasingly missing… replaced by invisible systems or automation or robot’. It’s the sort of prognostication that keeps Steyerl’s book Duty Free Art (2016) on nightstands. Steyerl didn’t exhibit much in 2018; despite topping this list last year, her natural mode is gadfly, striking smartly from the periphery. Nevertheless, she joined Esther Schipper’s starry roster in June and her first installation since 2016 is on view at Turin’s Castello di Rivoli. The work centres on neural sound recordings, looking into surveillance technologies and artificial intelligence while implicating the institution; art, Steyerl has long demonstrated, is part of our blighted moment’s mesh of problems.