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German video artist Hito Steyerl tops 'Power 100' list

November 3, 2017

Naming her the most influential contemporary artist in the world today by giving her the number one spot on the "Power 100" list, ArtReview magazine praised Hito Steyerl for her work as an artist and theorist.

A still from Hito Steyerl's How Not to Be Seen
Image: Hito Steyerl, Courtesy the artist and Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York

British art magazine ArtReview named German video artist Hito Steyerl the most influential person in the contemporary art world for the year 2017. The magazine praised the Berlin-based artist for her visual work, as well as for her "doggedly outspoken" critical writing.

In her top-spot listing, ArtReview called Steyerl an "artist-as-theorist, theorist-as-artist."

Steyerl recognizes both the positive and negative power of art, the magazine said in its announcement. "The artist makes the top slot on this list because she actively attempts to disrupt this nexus of power.'

ArtReview described Steyerl's works as combining thorough research with a narrative approach in video and installations alike. Her work has been exhibited worldwide, including at the 2017 Münster Sculpture Project, which takes place once every ten years. This year alone, her art has also appeared in exhibitions at New York City's Whitney Museum, Copenhagen's Kunsthal Charlottenborg and Düsseldorf's Julia Stoschek Foundation.

Steyerl has had more than a dozen solo exhibits around the world. Born in Munich in 1966, she studied in her home city, as well as in Tokyo and Vienna. She is a professor at the Berlin University of the Arts and frequently lectures to sold-out audiences.

Read more: 'ArtReview' reveals 100 most powerful figures in contemporary art in 2016

A critical artist

As an artist, Steyerl is not afraid to criticize the world in which she makes her career. In an interview with the British newspaper The Guardian earlier this year, she pointed out that "Contemporary art is made possible by neoliberal capital, plus the internet, biennials, art fairs, parallel pop-up histories and growing income inequalities."

Her activism was also evident September this year after she discovered that Düsseldorf-based military technology manufacturer Rheinmetall AG had sponsored Deutschland 8: German Art in China, an exhibition in Beijing that included her art. Steyerl teamed up with other artists to write to the co-curator in protest. They eventually drew up an exhibition agreement demanding that curators and institutions undertake due diligence in securing sponsorship.

A still from Hito Steyerl's 'How not to be seen' at 2015 Venice Biennale
Hito Steyerl appears in a still from her video 'How not to be seen' which appeared at the 2015 Venice Biennale in the German PavilionImage: Courtesy Hito Steyerl

A prestigious list

Just behind Steyerl on the 14th edition of Power 100 list came French artist Pierre Huyghe, followed by American science, technology and feminist theorist Donna Haraway. Adam Szymczyk, the artist director of this year's documenta in Kassel, took fourth place.

German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans appeared as number 11 on the list, while artist and activist Ai Weiwei, who splits his time between Berlin and London, was two spots below him at number 13.

ArtReview's Power 100 is compiled yearly by an anonymous panel of around 20 people including writers, artists, curators and critics who analyze the influence of contemporary artists in the global sphere over the past 12 months. The magazine intends the list to be "as much an invitation for debate as it is a definite statement."

cmb/rf (KNA, dpa)