Hito Steyerl, "How Not to Be Seen: A Fucking Didactic Educational

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Courtesy of Hito Steyerl
Hito Steyerl, still from HOW NOT TO BE SEEN A Fucking Didactic Educational, 2013
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Courtesy of Hito Steyerl
Hito Steyerl, still from HOW NOT TO BE SEEN A Fucking Didactic Educational, 2013
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Courtesy of Hito Steyerl
Hito Steyerl, still from HOW NOT TO BE SEEN A Fucking Didactic Educational, 2013
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Courtesy of Hito Steyerl
Hito Steyerl, still from HOW NOT TO BE SEEN A Fucking Didactic Educational, 2013
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Courtesy of Hito Steyerl
Hito Steyerl, still from HOW NOT TO BE SEEN A Fucking Didactic Educational, 2013
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Courtesy of Hito Steyerl
Hito Steyerl, still from HOW NOT TO BE SEEN A Fucking Didactic Educational, 2013
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Courtesy of Hito Steyerl
Hito Steyerl, still from HOW NOT TO BE SEEN A Fucking Didactic Educational, 2013
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Courtesy of Andrew Kreps Gallery
Installation view
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Courtesy of Andrew Kreps Gallery
Installation view
Free

Like a lot of today’s artists who deal with ostensibly political themes, Berliner Hito Steyerl alludes to societal ills without threatening the interests who benefit from them. (They are, after all, the same people making the art world go round.) The objects and videos in her current show constitute a punch list of hot-button issues dealt with the kind of cool reserve that is catnip to curators. Globalism? Check. The surveillance state? Double check. It’s no surprise that her work has been featured in such heavyweight cattle calls as Documenta and the Venice Biennale.

Her latest show, “How Not to Be Seen: A Fucking Didactic Educational Installation,” offers a paranoid vision cushioned by formal restraint, arresting graphics and an attitude of “I don’t take this shit too seriously.” Here, a series of bars suggesting gradients in varying widths and lengths has been applied to the floor and wall panels. They recall TV test patterns and, indeed, are meant to represent methods of calibrating optical resolution—especially in cameras found aboard drones, bombers and spy satellites. That much is made clear by the eponymous video, which delves into fanciful suggestions for avoiding such prying eyes. At one point, a voice informs viewers that targeting capabilities are now able to detect objects one pixel across. This dire news is illustrated by actors with boxes on their heads, performing a sort of goofy, post-9/11 Butoh.

Perhaps this is meant to be taken as a parody of overstated fears. I think not, but in any case, Steyerl’s art, however elegant, evinces the having-your-cake-and-eating-it-too politics all too common in contemporary art.—Howard Halle

Event phone: 212-741-8849
Event website: http://andrewkreps.com
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