Hito Steyerl

After the Crash

12 December - 27 February


Hito Steyerl’s practice operates at either end of, and across, a number of intersections. Holding a PhD in Philosophy she produces theoretical texts on documentary filmmaking and films that mix documentary and found footage alongside fictional elements. This is evident not only in After the Crash (2009), but also in such films as Lovely Andrea (2007) in which the artists attempts to track down a bondage photograph of herself taken in Japan in the late 1980’s. Sidelining this narrative drive are explorations of the Japanese bondage industry, images from Spider Man and incidences of torture in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo with a pumping pop soundtrack that includes Depeche Mode and Donna Summers. Such concatenations in her films are repositioned strategically to variously confront globalisation, global migration, post colonialism, feminism and inequality. In so doing, the seemingly displaced compositions ply the potentially productive tensions between radical form and radical content in an echo of Jean-Luc Godard’s maxim that artists and filmmakers make not “political films” (or works), but “make film politically” (interview about Tout Va Bien made with Jean-Pierre Gorin, 1972).

The terrain staked out by the film After the Crash, as suggested by the title, is la crisis; the current global economic crisis, which Steyerl elaborates analogously through the use of a giant airplane junkyard (fittingly) in the Californian desert. Beached, wounded with their ‘noses’ or other parts missing or wrecked and broiling beneath a tortuous sun, the planes take on an oddly human subjectivity. That the planes can be recycled and sold for profit is perhaps an example of capitalist critique (or nirvana depending on your position) of recyclability as endless (re)production and profit.

EyeContact review (PDF)