november, Lovely Andrea
november, Lovely Andrea
Through an essayistic style that includes research, composite imagery, interviews, and first-person voiceover, artist Hito Steyerl investigates contemporary visual culture and current image-making technologies.
In 1983, a teenage Steyerl shot a feminist martial arts film on found Super 8 stock, in which her best friend, Andrea Wolf, played the lead role of a female warrior. Fiction was later turned into reality when Wolf went to fight in the Kurdish–Turkish conflict, where she was killed in 1998 and subsequently honoured by Kurds as an ‘immortal revolutionary.'
In november (2004), a video essay commissioned by Manifesta, Steyerl examines the relationship between territorial power politics and individual forms of resistance, alluding to the Andrea Wolf case. The work weaves together excerpts from her earlier piece featuring Wolf, documentary footage from Kurdish television, clips from Bruce Lee movies, and Steyerl’s own narration, and addresses gender in political uprisings and the aesthetics of protest. The work’s title references the month following the 1917 October Revolution, a period associated with disillusionment.
In Lovely Andrea (2007), commissioned by Documenta, the references to Wolf are more ambiguous. Lovely Andrea follows Steyerl as she returns to Tokyo, where she briefly worked as a Japanese rope bondage model under the pseudonym Andrea; Steyerl is on a quest to find an erotic photograph of herself taken by bondage photographer Tanaka Kinichi 20 years earlier. The video plays out like a psychological thriller in which the artist is both the detective and missing subject. She interlaces the narrative with clips of Spider Man and Wonder Woman, and with documentary footage of atrocities inflicted upon Guantanamo Bay inmates, to explore ideas of bondage and domination as they extend to self-identification, popular culture, and politics.
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About the Director
Hito Steyerl (b. 1966, Germany) is an artist, cultural critic, filmmaker, writer, and academic. She studied cinematography and documentary film in Tokyo and Munich and holds a PhD in Philosophy from the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. Her research focuses on media, technology, and the circulation of images, as well as social issues relating to post-colonialism, feminism, and globalisation. Her films, moving image installations, performative lectures, and texts probe the complex and intertwined social, cultural, and financial conditions of late capitalism.
Image at top: Hito Steyerl. november, 2004. Photo: Courtesy of the Artist, Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York and Esther Schipper, Berlin