press release

Hito Steyerl. I Will Survive

September 26, 2020–January 10, 2021

The exhibition Hito Steyerl. I Will Survive at K21 is the first comprehensive overview of the work of the artist, filmmaker, and author to be presented in a German museum. Steyerl (b. 1966) is currently one of the most important positions internationally when it comes to reflecting on the social roles of art and museums, experimenting with media forms of presentation and critically examining the use of artificial intelligence. The exhibition developed jointly by the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen and the Centre Pompidou will first be presented in Düsseldorf and will then travel to Paris, where it will be on view beginning in February 2021.

Susanne Gaensheimer, Director of the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen: “With the exhibition Hito Steyerl. I Will Survive at K21, we are very pleased to present a comprehensive overview of the work of this important artist, filmmaker, and author for the first time in Germany. Steyerl is currently one of the most important positions internationally when it comes to reflecting on the social role of art and museums, experimenting with forms of media presentation, and critically examining data and the use of artificial intelligence.”

At the center of the presentation at K21 is a new multimedia installation developed especially for the exhibition, with which Steyerl critically explores the potentials of digitality, simulation, and artificial intelligence with regard to artistic creativity, modes of museum presentation, social upheavals, and pandemic conditions.

The new work will be shown together with a comprehensive selection of earlier works by Steyerl. In addition to large-scale installations from the past ten years (In Free Fall, 2010; Guards, 2012; How Not to Be Seen. A Fucking Didactic Educational .Mov File, 2013; Is the Museum a Battlefield?, 2013; Duty-Free Art, 2015; HellYeahWeFuckDie, 2016; The City of Broken Windows, 2018; This is the Future / Power Plants, 2019; and Mission Accomplished: Belanciege, 2019) the focus is on early films made shortly after Steyerl completed her studies in Documentary Film Direction. Deutschland und das Ich (Germany and the Ego, 1994), Babenhausen (1997), Die leere Mitte (The Empty Middle, 1998), and Normalität (Normality, 1999) are devoted to the resurgent racism and nationalism in post-reunification Germany. With November (2004) and Lovely Andrea (2007), two films central to Steyerl’s work will be shown, in which the circulation of images, the motif of death (of her friend Andrea Wolf), and the critical questioning of the sustainability of the documentary mode in film prove to be the core of Steyerl’s filmic-artistic approach. In theory and practice, Steyerl’s oeuvre represents a key contribution to the “documentary turn” in the visual arts around the year 2000. As a whole, the exhibition reveals how, over the past 30 years, Steyerl has followed the mutation of camera images from the analog image and its manifold montages to the split, fluid digital image and the resulting implications for the representation of wars, climate change, and capital flows.

An exhibition organized by Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf and Centre Pompidou, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris, funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation.

Curators: Doris Krystof, K21 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Florian Ebner and Marcella Lista, Centre Pompidou, Paris.

The exhibition at K21 and Centre Pompidou will be accompanied by a book object that combines the two exhibitions into a complementary diptych. Edited by Florian Ebner, Susanne Gaensheimer, Doris Krystof, and Marcella Lista. With contributions by Nora M. Alter, Karen Archey, Teresa Castro, Alexandra Delage, Florian Ebner, Tom Holert, Doris Krystof, Marcella Lista, Vanessa Joan Müller, Florentine Muhry, Mark Terkessidis, and Brian Kuan Wood and an interview by Hito Steyerl with Trevor Paglen. Designed by Fabian Bremer and Pascal Storz, published by Spector Books, Leipzig. ca. 360 pages.

On the occasion of the exhibition the second season of the K2021 podcast of the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen will be launched.