October 24, 2012 - Art Institute of Chicago - Hito Steyerl
October 24, 2012

Hito Steyerl

Hito Steyerl, Adorno’s Grey, 2012. © Hito Steyerl. Courtesy of Wilfried Lentz Rotterdam. Photo by Leon Kahane.

focus: Hito Steyerl
November 1, 2012–January 27, 2013

Opening: Thursday, November 1
Exhibition viewing 5–8pm
Conversation with the artist 6pm

The Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60603


Hito Steyerl is among the keenest observers of our thoroughly globalized, digitized condition. Her practice describes with uncommon precision the fluidity and mutability of images—how they are produced, interpreted, translated, packaged, transported, and consumed by a multitude of users. Most often, Steyerl’s art takes the form of video essays that comprise exhaustive research, montage, composite imagery, first-person voiceovers,  and interviews. While her subjects vary widely, her work is consistently based on the premise that we are always implicated, consciously and unconsciously, in the stories that we tell. Hers is a documentary form that is emphatically transparent about its subjectivity and its uncertainty.

Presenting six new and recent video installations, this exhibition—the 28th installment of the Art Institute of Chicago’s focus series—is organized in conjunction with Hito Steyerl on view at e-flux, New York (October 4–December 21, 2012). The earliest work on view, November (2004), is a self-reflexive video that examines the role of images in the post-revolutionary moment, primarily through the figure of Andrea Wolf, a friend of the artist’s from her teenage years who eventually fought alongside Kurdish rebels. Steyerl tracks the increasingly unstable transformations of Wolf’s image following her death at the hands of the Turkish government. Lovely Andrea (2007) follows the artist’s quest to find a bondage photograph she posed for while in Tokyo as a film student. The film explores ideas of bondage and domination as they extend to self-identification, popular culture, and politics. In Free Fall (2010) similarly takes on questions of continuous circulation as Steyerl uses the story of a particular Boeing 707 to analyze the social relations enmeshed in processes of production, consumption, destruction, and reuse. Abstract (2012) is a return to the contested narrative of Wolf’s death, as it links evidence from the site of her assumed murder to the sites of their provenance in Western cities. The work links the vocabulary of cinematic shooting and military warfare, and implicates Germany’s role in the operation. Adorno’s Grey (2012) expands outward from an infamous protest that took place during one of philosopher Theodor Adorno’s last lectures in 1969, wherein three female students bared their breasts amid widespread student demonstrations. In her most recent piece, co-commissioned by the Art Institute of Chicago and e-flux, Steyerl turns her focus to the overlapping structures of security and culture. Premiering in the focus exhibition, Guards (2012) was shot on location at the Art Institute and features interviews with art museum security personnel who have military backgrounds. Intermingled with new and found footage, the interviews explore the officers’ experiences of protecting art and protecting the nation.

Spatial design by Studio Miessen
Assistant to Hito Steyerl: Alwin Franke 

Ongoing support for focus exhibitions is provided by the Alfred L. McDougal and Nancy Lauter McDougal Fund for Contemporary Art. Major exhibition support provided by Lisa Yun Lee. Annual support provided by the Exhibitions Trust: Goldman Sachs, Kenneth and Anne Griffin, Thomas and Margot Pritzker, the Earl and Brenda Shapiro Foundation, the Trott Family Foundation, and the Woman’s Board of the Art Institute of Chicago.



Hito Steyerl at The Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago
Share - Hito Steyerl
  • Share
Click to subscribe to e-flux and be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements
Subscribe to e-flux
Be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements.
Subscribe to architecture
Explore the most recent content from e-flux architecture and urbanism
Subscribe to e-flux programs
Keep up-to-date on all upcoming talks, screenings, and exhibitions at e-flux in New York