The Akademie der Künste in Berlin has given its 2019 Käthe Kollwitz Prize to the video artist and writer Hito Steyerl. Awarded annually to an artist working in Germany, the prize comes with €12,000, or about $13,650.
Steyerl, who is based in Berlin, has a devoted following in Europe and the United States for her video installations about image circulation in the digital age. These works tend to combine her subject matter with quasi-philosophical digressions about surveillance technology, political shifts, and the role art plays in society today. Her essays on such topics, most notably 2009’s “In Defense of the Poor Image,” are considered some of the most influential texts penned by an artist in the past decade.
The jury for the prize, which included artists Douglas Gordon and Katharina Grosse and art historian Ulrike Lorenz, said in a statement, “Hito Steyerl’s montage of computer animations, mass media, and self-directed scenes emphasize the influence of digital information . . . and draw attention to current political and social processes.”
Past winners of the prize, which has been awarded by the Akademie der Künste for almost six decades, include Gordon, Adrian Piper, Martin Kippenberger, Mona Hatoum, and the collaborative duo Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller.