Winner EYE Prize 2015 | Hito Steyerl
German artist Hito Steyerl (Munich, 1966) is the winner of the inaugural EYE Prize.
Berlin-based Steyerl is one of the most acclaimed video artists working today. Trained as a film-maker at the Hochschule für Fernsehen und Film in Munich, she effortlessly crosses the boundary between film and fine art in her penetrating and often humorous work. She also investigates the role of the media in an era of globalization and the staggeringly rapid dissemination of images and ideas brought on by digital technologies, which she calls ‘circulationism’ in one of her essays. She argues that most images are no longer simply a representation of reality but actually intervene in reality.
From the EYE Prize jury report: “Steyerl is amongst the keenest observers of our thoroughly globalized and digitalized world. Her works are at the forefront of the new digital age language, which she researches, questions and opens up to discussion. She speculates on the impact of the internet and digitalization on the fabric of everyday life. By using all different and possible audio-visual techniques, Steyerl is an essay film-maker and artist par excellence.”
Her highly acclaimed video essays on the influence of the internet, visual culture and digitalization on our daily lives are often cast in surprising and playful forms. Good examples are her science-fiction phantasy shown in the German pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennale, and her sardonic parody on the instruction video in How Not To Be Seen: A F**king Didactic Educational .MOV File. In this work she attacks the need to always be visible and points to the dangerous consequences for our privacy. In her video November (2004) she mixes excerpts from Bruce Lee films with documentary images from Kurdish television to investigate the influence of action films on the fighting tactics employed by rebels. As always, she does it without becoming pedantic or passing moral judgement. Vigilance is called for, her work tells us, and she in turn reacts to and engages with the stream of images that increasingly surrounds us. In addition, it is not always clear what is true and what is concocted.
In 2014 the Van Abbe Museum in Eindhoven presented her first major museum retrospective. In that same year, Steyerl had solo exhibitions at the Art Institute in Chicago and the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in London. Her work was also shown at the Biennales in Venice (2013/2015) and Istanbul (2013), the Biennales in Gwangju and Taipei (2010), the Biennale in Shanghai (2008), Documenta 12 in Kassel (2007) and Manifesta 5 (2004). Her book The Wretched of the Screen was published in 2012 by e-flux and Sternberg Press. Steyerl studied at the Japan Institute of the Moving Image and then at the Hochschule für Fernsehen und Film in Munich. She obtained a PhD in philosophy in Vienna. Steyerl is a professor of Art and Multimedia at the Berlin University of the Arts.
The EYE Art & Film Prize is awarded every year to an artist/film-maker who has made a significant contribution to the development of the border area between film and fine art. Every three years, EYE presents an exhibition of work by the previous three winners of the EYE Prize, accompanied by a publication. The first exhibition is scheduled for 2018.