Cover image of the review
Title image: Hito Steyerl, _Factory of the Sun,_ 2015. Installation view at National Gallery of Victoria. Photo: Amelia Winata.)

Hito Steyerl: Factory of the Sun

3 Nov 2018
28 Sep - 24 Mar 2019

Hito Steyerl is arguably the most important “post-internet” artist alive today. Though the history of post-internet art is a nascent one insofar as wide-spread use of the technology is quite a recent phenomenon, the art that responds to it also reflects this ascendency. Ironically, the post-internet 'condition' seems to have had a limited lifespan, the work seeming to confirm the zeitgeist of the recent past—one that has quickly evolved into an altogether different present.

Factory of the Sun, 2015, was first exhibited in the German Pavilion of the 2015 Venice Biennale, All the Worlds Futures. It is a 21-minute single-channel video presented on an enormous screen supported by stage mounted scaffolding. Upon entering the exhibition space, the viewer is overwhelmed by a dark room gridded with neon blue light tubes that create a matrix across the floor, walls and ceiling like an '80s video-game or '00s remake. Plastic reclining chairs (the smell of which trigger olfactory memories of IKEA) lined up across the back of the room encourage the viewer to stay for the duration of the video. I must admit that I found the experience of watching Factory of the Sun entertaining. It felt like a theme park ride—Baudrillard's theme park, of course. The sudden display of the work after its 2016 purchase is surely also a reaction to the ongoing public demands for the NGV to exhibit more female artists (or at least fewer male artists). Symptomatic of this is also the concurrent solo exhibition of works from the Guerrilla Girls.

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