e-flux journal books
Hito Steyerl: The Wretched of the Screen
September 2012, English
10.8 x 17.8 cm, 200 pages, 25 b/w illustrations, softcover
Design by Jeff Ramsey, cover design by Liam Gillick
In Hito Steyerl’s writing we begin to see how, even if the hopes and desires for coherent collective political projects have been displaced onto images and screens, it is precisely here that we must look frankly at the technology that seals them in. The Wretched of the Screen collects a number of Steyerl’s landmark essays from recent years in which she has steadily developed her very own politics of the image.
Twisting the politics of representation around the representation of politics, these essays uncover a rich trove of information in the formal shifts and aberrant distortions of accelerated capitalism, of the art system as a vast mine of labor extraction and passionate commitment, of occupation and internship, of structural and literal violence, enchantment and fun, of hysterical, uncontrollable flight through the wreckage of postcolonial and modernist discourses and their unanticipated openings.
With an introduction by Franco “Bifo” Berardi
Edited by Julieta Aranda, Brian Kuan Wood, Anton Vidokle
Franco “Bifo” Berardi, Introduction
In Free Fall: A Thought Experiment on Vertical Perspective
In Defense of the Poor Image
A Thing Like You and Me
Is a Museum a Factory?
The Articulation of Protest
Politics of Art: Contemporary Art and the Transition to Post-Democracy
Art as Occupation: Claims for an Autonomy of Life
Freedom from Everything: Freelancers and Mercenaries
Missing People: Entanglement, Superposition, and Exhumation as Sites of Indeterminacy
The Spam of the Earth: Withdrawal from Representation
Cut! Reproduction and Recombination
- Reserve Armies of The Imagination
One of the most striking features of the recent wave of global protests, from Athens to Occupy, Tahrir Square to Taksim, has been the profusion of images and slogans they have generated, a creative ferment that has fired radical imaginations in one country after another.  Yet the successes that many of these movements have achieved in the realm of discourse—the concept of ‘the 99 per cent’, for example, is now common currency—for the moment far outstrip any actual political gains. There are several possible explanations for this disparity: the sheer weight of elite power and privilege, the absence of fully worked-out programmes for radical change, combinations of co-optation and repression. But is it possible that the gap between the two forms of representation—political on the one hand, cultural on the other—is a constitutive feature of contemporary reality? And that the explosion of communication enabled by new technologies and social media, as well as bringing ever more people onto the political stage, is simultaneously a mechanism for the exclusion of millions of others? According to the art critic and film-maker Hito Steyerl, the link between political and cultural representation, never straightforward, has become profoundly unstable in the image-saturated neoliberal era; we live in ‘an age of unrepresentable people and an overpopulation of images’, in which ‘a growing number of unmoored and floating images corresponds to a growing number of disenfranchised, invisible or even disappeared or missing people’.