“War Games” is a dialogue between artists Martha Rosler (Brooklyn, NY) and Hito Steyerl (Berlin) presenting works with a common interest and focus: a tenacious commitment to critical engagement with social and political issues. Resonances between their works speak to the affinity between their stances and the concerns both share—concerns that are of global significance and suggest both artists’ probing critical attention to the political developments of our time. Both artists choose to involve themselves in contemporary controversies while also studying their historical backgrounds and the role played by media. Fascinating in their aesthetic construction, Rosler’s and Steyerl’s works are formulations of resistance to the normalisation of democratic decline, the privatisation of public spaces and domains of life and their subjection to economic pressures, violence and oppression at the hands of private actors as well as the authorities, the reduction of the human being to his value as a source of labor and consumer, and the militarisation of spheres of social life. In light of the rising tide of illiberalism around the world, the exhibition thus also reaffirms the museum’s commitment to showing art that does not shy away from contention in asserting the need to foster democratic structures, civic values, and tolerance.
- Martha Rosler, Photo Op, 2004