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  • Hito Steyerl, ArtReview Power 100 2017
  • Iwan & Manuela Wirth © Hugo Rittson Thomas. Courtesy Hauser & Wirth, London

ArtReview Power 100 - Hito Steyerl Tops the Annual List for 2017!

November 3, 2017
A philosophy graduate interested in theory, politics and art. Alias of Jelena Martinović.

The ranking of the international contemporary artworld’s 100 most in influential people, ArtReview’s annual Power 100 List, published in association with BMW, is a highly anticipated barometer of influence in the art world.

Including artists, curators, collectors, directors, theorists and gallerists, it presents people who have had international influence over the production and dissemination of art and ideas within the art world and beyond over the past 12 months.

The 16th edition of the Power 100 has just been released, revealing noticeable shifts in the structures underpinning the art world. It includes a specially commissioned artist project by Berlin-based Hiwa K, an artist focusing on knowledge gained from experience, as well as examining activist-art collectives, and the influence of rampant financialization on the art world in an age of austerity.

Controversial by nature, the list is as much an invitation for debate as it is a definitive statement.

ArtReview's Power 100
ArtReview’s Power 100

Hito Steyerl as the Number One of Power 100

The number one in the 16th edition of Power 100 is the artist Hito Steyerl. As ArtReview comments, Steyerl is someone who recognizes that art is the construct of powerful forces.

“The artist makes the top slot on this list because she actively attempts to disrupt this nexus of power”, the magazine explains. Taking a cue from historical and political narratives, Steyerl’s videos and installations tackle digital culture and identity along the way.

Always doggedly outspoken in her academically rigorous writing, performative lectures and teaching, Hito Steyerl challenges the commodification of art and the corrupting power of the market. Her work took part in this year’s Skulptur Projekte Münster, and her work was shown in many solo and group exhibitions throughout the world.

Her recently published book, Duty Free Art: Art in the Age of Planetary Civil War, poses uncomfortable questions about today’s image culture and the art market.

Hito Steyerl © Tobias Zielony
Hito Steyerl © Tobias Zielony

Philosophers and Thinkers

Prominently featuring artists who are engaged in exploring radical political ideas, the 2017 edition also includes influential philosophers and thinkers.

While Donna Haraway, a prominent scholar in the field of science and technology studies whose writing is seminal to current debates over identity, feminism and ecology, is at number 3, Bruno Latour, a philosopher and sociologist whose work has challenged the widespread perception about the relationship between human society and nonhuman systems, is ranked at number 9.

For the first time, the list includes Judith Butler at 48 and Chris Kraus at 77, whose work was seminal in art’s evolving focus on issues of gender and sexuality.

Bruno Latour © Hannah Assouline, Donna Haraway
Left: Bruno Latour © Hannah Assouline / Right: Donna Haraway © Rusten Hogness

Artists on the List

While Pierre Huyghe occupies the position number 2 for work engaging with the humankind’s impact on the environment, the photographer Wolfgang Tillmans, who designed a series of shareable posters to rouse the electorate to action in the wake of the possibility of AfD entering the parliament, is at number 11.

Artist and activist Ai Weiwei is at number 13, and Joan Jonas, a pioneer of video and performance art who will have a retrospective at Tate Modern next year, is number 14.

Artists who have also entered the list this year are Kara Walker at 56, who explores the origins of racial inequality, but also the vast social and economic inequalities that persist in America, and Kerry James Marshall at 68, who had a major retrospective touring the US this year.

Pierre Huyghe, Kerry James Marshalll
Left: Pierre Huyghe © Ola Rindal / Right: Kerry James Marshall © Dawoud Bey

Gallerists and Collectors

On the other hand, gallerists and collectors still hold sway. The highest ranking gallerist is David Zwirner at number 5, whose gallery has presented major exhibitions of Felix Gonzales-Torres and Alice Neel.

He is joined by Iwan and Manuela Wirth at 7, praised for changing the model of how art is bought and sold, collector and patron Bernard Arnault, who has risen to number 28 for the massive success of his exhibition of the Shchukin Collection at Foundation Louis Vuitton in Paris, as well as Vanessa Carlos at 100, who has joined this list for the first time in recognition of Condo, the international gallery exchange program she founded as an alternative to the art fair.

Gavin Brown, David Zwirner
Left: Gavin Brown, Courtesy Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York / Right: David Zwirner © Dirk Eusterbrock. Courtesy David Zwirner, New York

Art Review’s Power 100 List

ArtReview’s annual Power 100 List, a considered analysis of power in the contemporary art world, is compiled each year in consultation with an invited and anonymous international panel of writers, artists, curators and critics. Founded in 2002, it is the longest-running and most authoritative guide to the forces that are driving the international contemporary art scene and often invisible structures that shape it.

As the most established ranking in the art world, it provides a unique overview of the contemporary art scene as it is. Guided by relevant themes and trends that are shaking the art world in the given year, it also provides an insight into the very nature of power and what it could and should be.

The full list is available here.

Featured image: Iwan & Manuela Wirth © Hugo Rittson Thomas. Courtesy Hauser & Wirth, London. All images courtesy of ArtReview.