Liquidity Inc. (Hito Steyerl)

2020.10.27

Liquidity Inc.,HD video, Single Channel in Architectural Environment  , 30min. 15sec. , 2014  Exhibition view, Art Gallery of Ontario, 2019–2020 © Dean Tomlinson / Art Gallery of Ontario

Hito Steyerl’s work Liquidity Inc. is a video installation presented in a site-specific architectural setting conceived by the artist — a curved ramp with blue judo mats and beanbags for seating.

The 30-minute-long video is a montage of filmed footage, computer animation and moving images found online. Its story combines documentary and fiction. The film follows the protagonist Jacob Wood, a former financial analyst of Asian descent who lost his job during the 2008 economic crisis. Since then, he has been practicing martial arts, following Bruce Lee’s tactics to “be shapeless, formless, like water.” The water leitmotiv is iterated by colorful Internet-sourced gif animations of The Great Wave off Kanagawa — Hokusai’s famous ukiyo-e — improvised monsoon weather reports, or 3D renderings of bluish transparent liquid flooding up the screen. The story pays a special attention to the market liquidity — the economic term that describes easily traded and converted assets and goods — and their role during economic recessions.

The architectural environment encompasses a curved wooden ramp that has been painted blue and covered with blue judo mats. It exists in two variations: fully built or leaving parts of the surface empty, giving an impression as if the wave would have hit the structure. The architectural element serves as a viewing area for the video. The viewers are invited to lie in beanbags, placed at the bottom of the curved ramp.

Hito Steyerl (Germany)

Hito Steyerl was born in 1966 in Munich. She currently lives and works in Berlin.

Steyerl has studied at the Academy of Visual Arts, Tokyo and the University of Television and Film, Munich. She also completed a doctorate in philosophy at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna.

Steyerl is the recipient of the 2019 Käthe Kollwitz Prize from Akademie der Künste in Berlin. In 2015, Steyerl was awarded the EYE Prize from the EYE Film Institute Netherlands and the Paddy & Joan Leigh Fermor Arts Fund. In 2010, she received the New:Vision Award from the Copenhagen International Documentary Festival.

The artist’s recent solo exhibitions include Hito Steyerl: Drill, Park Avenue Armory, New York (2019); Power Plants, Serpentine Galleries, London (2019); Hito Steyerl, Akademie der Künste, Berlin (2019); The City of Broken Windows, Castello di Rivoli, Turin (2018); Liquidity Inc., The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2017); Factory of the Sun, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2016); The Distributed Image, LUMA Foundation, Arles (2016); Too Much World, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane (2016).

From 2014 to 2017, Steyerl co-founded the Research Centre for Proxy Politics at the University of Arts Berlin. The initiative led a series of workshops and in 2017, it concluded with a final conference, The Proxy and Its Politics, and the publication of Proxy Politics, Power and Subversion in a Networked Age (Archive Books, Berlin).