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16 Oct 2014

Hito Steyerl at Alternativa/Wyspa Institute of Art

Hito Steyerl, Abstract, 2012. Still from HD video with sound. 5 minutes. Photo by Leon Kahane

Alternativa/ Wyspa Institute of Art


Opening: October 16, 2014 7pm On view Tue-Sun 11am-6pm
until December 31, 2014 Curator Aneta Szyłak

Radoslaw Orzel

Doki 1/145b
80-958 Gdansk

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Alternativa 2014 is proud to present 'Abstract' – the first solo exhibition in Poland of the outstanding German artist, theoretician and documentary essayist Hito Steyerl. She is a key figure of contemporary art and film, one who views the image-making process from feminist, critical and political perspectives.

Her main area of interest is in media analysis: a re-definition of meanings in shifting images. Her work outlines the relationship between the flow of capital and the value of art, between financial and symbolic capitals, between war and aesthetics. The artist draws our attention not so much to things that we are able to see but to those, which we do not see, which are hidden before our very eyes because of the seductive power of representation.

Here she has again, turned her attention to the hidden layer of an image -the physically existence of a wall structure and picture as matter. Does a picture have a body? What do we learn from an image, which is blurred, obliterated, badly made - rejected? The artist chases her own medium of film as a tool for manipulating the viewer and information. She is also interested in the ways in which the human body encodes and records behaviours and procedures; the body, as a recording and retrieving tool. Simultaneously, Steyerl explores her own history as a person whose life with the camera is a continual return to the questions: What does it mean to make an image of someone, to film them, to create relationships through recording? What does it mean to be in a picture and represent oneself as the person who not only watches but is also being watched all the time.

Steyerl is continually asking the question: what does it mean to be visible or invisible in a time of recording, scanning and surveillance, when all of our moves and activities are being documented and systematically used, often without our knowledge and/or permission, in a militarised and profit-oriented reality. We can see a collage of various technological languages in her works, along with aesthetics of recording and persuasion, entangling us through a continual flow of capitalised information. The artist sketches the relationship between seemingly disparate domains of knowledge; she can precisely, scrupulously and painfully mimic various forms of communication.

'Abstract' showcases her latest works, among which are pieces such as: 'Liquidity Inc.', 'Adorno's Grey', 'How Not to be Seen', 'Guards' and 'Is the Museum a Battlefield?' and important older work such as 'Lovely Andrea' or 'November'.

The Berlin- based artist has participated in a number of leading exhibitions of contemporary art, such as: Documenta, Manifesta, as well as Biennials in Venice, Taipei, Istanbul and Gwangju. Her solo exhibitions have been hosted by art institutions, such as: the Art Institute in Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego, the Van Abbe Museum in Eindhoven, the ICA in London and many others. She completed her film studies in Munich and Tokyo, and earned her PhD at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. She is a professor at the University of Art (UDK) in Berlin and has also lectured at Goldsmiths and the Centre for Curatorial Studies at Bard College. Steyerl contributes regularly to the journal e-flux where she authors numerous texts on issues concerning image theory, including those published in the collection The Wretched of the Screen. Sternberg Press: 2013.

This exhibition is the 4th and final act of Alternativa 2014 'The Garden of Everyday Errors'. Former exhibitions have included: 'Oliver Ressler: Political Imaginaries: Making the World Anew', 'Everydayness' and 'Otherwise'.

The exhibition was financed by The City of Gdansk, and co-financed by The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, and made possible thanks to help from the Insitut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa) in Stuttgart. Grupa Azoty SA is a partner of Alternativa 2014.