The exhibition at the Kunstmuseum Basel | Present presents works by Martha Rosler (Brooklyn, NY) and Hito Steyerl (Berlin). She puts both early and current works into a dialogue conceived jointly with the artists. Rosler and Steyerl are exhibiting together for the first time - both are also the first comprehensive show in Switzerland. In addition to numerous video works, photos, photomontages, banners and objects, on two floors of the building you will see expansive multimedia installations that confront visitors with spectacularly staged high-tech imagery.
The works of both artists address the interfaces between politics and the mass media. Both in their artistic as well as theoretical production, Rosler and Steyerl reflect the connection between our perception of social reality and the audiovisual media that are essential for their mediation.
As early as the 1970s, Rosler used the television format of the cooking show to convey feminist concerns. Today it deals with the effects of drone-based image production or with the upheavals that are triggered in the field of political opinion formation by social media.
Steyerl - whose early filmic works reflect her engagement with the documentary and essay film - mixes in more recent video installations increasingly computer-animated pictorial worlds with the aesthetics of self-produced clips, as found on countless platforms on the Internet. In doing so, she challenges the ambivalent function of digital mobile communication and image equipment, in the use of which opposites such as empowerment and control or played and real wars are always inextricably linked.
A recurrent theme of the works assembled in War Games is the artistic engagement with forms of social, political, economic and military dominance. In various works and on the basis of different fields of conflict such as (post-) colonialism, anti-Semitism, migration, xenophobia, war, urban development, consumption and gender, hard as well as soft mechanisms of social power and domination are discussed. In this context, the role of cultural institutions - including the museum - within existing political-economic hegemonies. A large number of the works shown here are dedicated to the increasingly observable trend of a comprehensive militarization of everyday life, to which the title of the exhibition also refers.