*1966 in Munich, lives and works in Berlin
With her documentary films, videos, video lectures and large media installations she has created since the 1990s, Hito Steyerl today represents an important reference point for successive generation of artists. The Empty Centre (1998) is an example of a critical work that faces realities without the illusion of a moral overview and clarity. On the example of central Berlin and the reconstruction of former death strip (Todesstreifen) near Potsdamer Platz, the film, just over one hour in length, develops a web of history, architecture, and political class struggle. The layering of narratives of historical details and current image sequences, in particular, facilitates the experience of complex correlations. The Fall of the Wall, and the presence of new, less visible and expansive boundaries are hence formally lifted in the occurring shift of images and words. Focal points, such as the former ”Haus Vaterland”, a large amusement palace from the 1920s, or workers’ protests at the construction site of the Reichstag at various historical times, illustrate the similarities of mechanisms of social exclusion of strangers in times of crises. The lonely squatters on the former death strip that Steyerl allows to speak for themselves, have since disappeared, along with the wastelands and open spaces.