Hito Steyerl Van Abbemuseum

Retrospective Exhibition

Eindhoven, NL
Hito Steyerl / Van Abbemuseum
Type: Exhibition Architecture

  • Commissioned by Hito Steyerl and Annie Fletcher, Van Abbemuseum
  • Artwork developed by Hito Steyerl
  • Curated by Annie Fletcher

Exhibition Website

  • Exhibition Architecture: Studio Miessen
  • Project Leader: Markus Miessen, Diogo Passarinho
  • Team: Yulia Startsev, Sophie Burgess
  • Graphic Design: Diogo Passarinho, Aimee Burnett
  • Production Team: Theo Wajon, Antoine Derksen, Diederik Koppelmans, Annette Eliëns
  • Catalogue editor: Nick Aikens
  • Catalogue designed: Bardhi Haliti
  • Photography: Peter Cox

In April 2014 the Van Abbemuseum opened the first European, mid career museum retrospective of the artist Hito Steyerl. In collaboration with the architects at Studio Markus Miessen, the artist explores a system of physical circulation and encounter between the viewer and her art works through a series of very precise architectural inventions in to the space. This exhibition design interrupts a single reading of the works and a straight route through the exhibition. By doing this, the visitor is confronted with the materiality of the screen itself and one’s own embodied position as viewer.

This comprehensive exhibition occupied the ten galleries of the Museum’s Old Building and included work from the past ten years alongside three new pieces namely Liquidity Inc.; Schunga and Surveillance: Disappearance.

The exhibition addressed the circulation of images in our digital age and its cultural and political implications – as well as possibilities – for both consumers and political subjects. Steyerl suggests that circulationism could be the new productivism in the way in which money and information flow digitally within the contemporary world.

The video work HOW NOT TO BE SEEN: A Fucking Didactic Eductional .MOV File (2013) was on view at the Venice 2013 Biennale and was donated to the Van Abbemuseum by Outset NL and the promotors of the Van Abbemuseum.

The exhibition architecture for Hito Steyerl’s retrospective at Van Abbe presents itself as a loop, a linear corridor, which holds, at its very center, Adorno’s Grey. It unfolds a narrative in which circulation space is mobilized as a means to unfold a series of chapters that are transcribed into individual spaces along this passageway.

The overall design of the show functions like an insert into the overall institutional space of Van Abbe: rather than thinking about individual exhibition spaces that are following a logic of gradual movement through individual works, the design of the exhibition allows the individual pieces to be read as a body of work.

Partially hidden between and behind physical separations, the works create a new spatial framework through which the audience gradually disappears into the exhibition itself. A continues 3-meter floating datum acts as a visual ceiling that inhabits all interventions, projections, screens, and – more generally speaking – spaces for observation and pause.

In anticipation of the parcour of the exhibition, the viewer enters the foyer and encounters Surveillance: Disappearance, already virtually immersing in and merging with the work.

Performance / Publication

During the opening, Hito Steyerl did the performance The Museum is a Battlefield. A new publication was produced on the occasion of this show.

The exhibition toured to other international venues.