The exhibition encompasses about two dozen video works from the past 30 years, and it is not just challenging to take it all in on a single visit, it’s actually impossible. Even a whole day at the museum would not be long enough to see each work from start to finish. But the value of the overview (it is not called a retrospective—after all, Steyerl is only 54) is in seeing how her work has developed.
“I Will Survive” begins with Steyerl’s films from the 1990s focused on German society and politics, screened on boxy, outdated television sets with subtitles of dubious quality. It ends with her recent, complex, and slick multiscreen installations that encompass entire rooms.
Yet even the early films, while technically unsophisticated by today’s standards, are as relevant as ever in terms of content, addressing attacks on foreigners and nationalism in post-reunification Germany. In the works Babenhausen (1997) and Normality 1-X (1999–2003), she explores anti-Semitism and hate crimes by right-wing extremists. Over the past three years, the number of anti-Semitic attacks in Germany has almost doubled; just this month, a Jewish student was attacked outside a synagogue in Hamburg.