Image © Art Gallery of Ontario
Have you seen Hito Steyerl: This is the future yet? Internationally acclaimed artist, filmmaker and writer, Hito Steyerl has created an exhibition that offers a nuanced critique of the information age. Eleven captivating works combine video narratives with built environments that touch on complex topics like the rise of robotics, artificial intelligence and the shadowy world of elite tax havens. Whether you’re familiar with her work or have yet to be acquainted, we’ve compiled a reading list to help you dive deeper into Steyerl’s brilliant mind – with all books conveniently available at shopAGO.
The artist’s explorations are darkly ironic cultural critiques with great relevance in today’s technological climate. Her artwork in the exhibition is grounded by her writings, which can be found in a number of publications.
Steyerl’s critical study of technology and politics is highlighted in this collection of her landmark essays, including her most widely referenced essay, In Defense of the Poor Image. The publication includes other popular essays such as Is a Museum a Factory? and In Free Fall: A Thought Experiment on Vertical Perspective. This is a vital publication in further understanding the philosophical roots that inform Steyerl’s artworks and it’s recommended to those who want to gain a better understanding of her interconnected world where fact, fiction, real and virtual collide.
Pattern Discrimination is a short collection of critical essays about the renewed urgency of identity politics in the age of big data. As one of the contributing authors, Steyerl shines a light on “human” prejudices in artificial intelligence algorithms with her essay A Sea of Data: Pattern Recognition and Corporate Animism (Forked Version). In a digital world that should be unbiased, she sees old forms of social segregation emerge in its patterns.
What is the function of art in the era of digital globalization? In Duty Free Art: Art in the Age of Planetary Civil War, Steyerl questions how we can appreciate, or even make art, in the present age. In this collection of essays, she considers the complex relationships between the art world and the interests and politics of those in power. Our favourite essays in this publication are A Tank on a Pedestal, Proxy Politics: Signal and Noise and Duty Free Art, which is also tied to Steyerl’s video lecture Duty Free Art (2015) on view in the exhibition.
Want to continue the conversation about the exhibition? Take it home with you with the AGO’s Hito Steyerl: This is the future exhibition catalogue. Get a closer look into Steyerl’s works and learn more about the exhibition through essays by Adelina Vlas, the AGO’s Associate Curator, Contemporary Art, Wendy Hui Kyong Chun and Brian Droitcour.
Looking for more? Join our Study Day: Hito Steyerl 101 for an introduction to the artist’s work. The day will include a talk exploring the exhibition and emerging digital technologies and a visit to the exhibition, followed by a Q&A session over lunch.
Hito Steyerl: This is the future is now open on Level 5 of the Vivian & David Campbell Centre for Contemporary Art.