Hito Steyerl film acquired for GoMA, the first work by the artist to enter a UK Collection

A film by Hito Steyerl, Abstract (2012), has been acquired by the Contemporary Art Society for GoMA, becoming the first work by the artist to enter a public collection in the UK. Steyerl is one of the most acclaimed artists of her generation, representing Germany at the 2015 Venice Biennale. Recent institutional solo shows include The Art Institute of Chicago, the Van Abbemuseum, Institute of Contemporary Art and The Reina Sofía Museum.

Abstract (2012) is a two-channel video commemorating a childhood friend of Steyerl’s called Andrea Wolf, who became an activist and revolutionary and was eventually killed in the Kurdish region of Turkey in 1998 when fighting for the PKK.

Wolf was already subject of Steyerl’s films November (2004) and Lovely Andrea (2007), and Abstract (2012) shows Steyerl visiting the site where her friend died, examining ammunition casings that most likely killed her. Instead of including any pictures of Wolf, the Kurdish guide recounts the circumstances surrounding her death.  On the other screen Steyerl is in Berlin, taking cell phone pictures of an office of Lockheed Martin, manufacturer of weapons sold by the German government to the Turkish Army. Combining cinematography, globalisation and warfare, it reveals how the political and private are closely interconnected.

GoMA has been researching and acquiring documentary media by influential female artists since 2007, increasing the representation of women working in this field within the city’s collection and highlighting the contribution of female artists to contemporary art practice overall. Abstract (2012) relates thematically and intellectually to a number of key recent acquisitions including work by Fiona Tan, Emily Jacir, Barbara Kruger and Jenny Holzer.

Councillor Archie Graham, Chair of Glasgow Life, said:

“As both a powerful piece of documentary film work in its own right and the first work by the artist to enter a public collection in the UK, this is a wonderful acquisition for GoMA. GoMA’s aim is to build a world-class collection of contemporary visual art through the acquisition of important national and international works of art.  The addition of a piece by such a distinguished artist as Hito Steyerl marks an important moment in this journey and has enabled Glasgow Museums to secure a brilliant and poignant  work for the city and Scotland.  We would like to thank the Contemporary Art Society for their invaluable support in making this possible.”

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Abstract (2012) was purchased through the Contemporary Art Society’s Collections Fund, an annual £25,000 scheme that draw together the expertise of the Contemporary Art Society’s Patrons with that of museum curators in an intense programme of research leading to an acquisition. The other editions of Abstract are in the collections of the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven and the Guggenheim Museum, New York. Previous Collections Fund acquisitions include Simon Fujiwara’s Rebekkah (2012) for Leeds Art Gallery and Ben Rivers Ah, Liberty! (2008) for Royal Pavilion & Museum, Brighton & Hove, and Bristol Museum & Art Gallery.

For more information and images please contact:

Marcus Crofton, Communications Manager, Contemporary Art Society
+44 (0)20 7017 8412

Suzanne Rough, Communications Officer – Museums and Collections, Glasgow Life
+44 (0)141 287 3575

Lynne Mackenzie, Communications Officer – Museums and Collections, Glasgow Life
+44 (0)141 287 3575


Notes to Editors:


Hito Steyerl (b. 1966) lives and works in Berlin. Steyerl is a filmmaker and writer whose work explores the mass proliferation of images and knowledge brought on by digital technologies. With frequently political content, it is often delivered through the internet’s context of presentation – tumblr pages, computer screens and other media. She has had solo exhibitions at Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain; Artists Space, New York; Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia (2015); Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands; ICA, London, UK; Künstlerhaus Stuttgart, Germany (2014); Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (2013); the Art Institute of Chicago; E-flux, New York (2012); Chisenhale Gallery, London, UK (2010); Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (2009); and Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2008). Group exhibitions include the German Pavilion, 56th Venice Biennal, Venice, Italy; the Hannover Kunstverein, Hannover, Germany; CAC Vilnius, Vilnius, Lithuania (2015); Cut to Swipe, Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Darknet, Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen, Switzerland; Bienal de la Imagen en Movimento, Goethe- Institut Buenos Aires, Argentina (2014); The Way of the Shovel: Art as Archeology, MCA Chicago; Nine Artists, Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis; Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Bergen Triennial, Bergen, Norway; Venice Biennale (2013); Taipei Biennial; GwangjuBiennial (2010); documenta 12, Kassel (2007) and Manifesta 5, San Sebastian (2004). Upcoming shows include Hito Steyerl: Factory of the Sun at MOCA, Los Angeles from 21 February 2016.

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The Contemporary Art Society champions the collecting of outstanding contemporary art and craft in the UK. Since 1910 the charity has donated thousands of works by living artists to museums, from Picasso, Bacon, Hepworth and Moore in their day, through to the influential artists of our times. Sitting at the heart of cultural life in the UK, the Contemporary Art Society brokers philanthropic support for the benefit of museums and their audiences across the entire country. Their work ensures that the story of art continues to be told now and for future generations. www.contemporaryartsociety.org

Collections Fund:

The Collections Fund is a new strategic initiative designed to support the acquisition of significant contemporary works worth up to £20,000 to be gifted to Contemporary Art Society Museum Members across the UK.

A key aim of the scheme is to draw together the knowledge, experience and expertise of the Contemporary Art Society’s Patrons with that of museum curators in an intense programme of research leading to an acquisition. The scheme provides curators with a framework for research, including studio visits and discussion with the committee members of the Collections Fund.

Previous Collections Fund acquisitions include Simon Fujiwara’s Rebekkah (2012) for Leeds Art Gallery and Ben Rivers Ah, Liberty! (2008) for Royal Pavilion & Museum, Brighton & Hove, and Bristol Museum & Art Gallery. The committee that acquired Abstract (2012) was chaired by Cathy Wills and Anna Yang.


Glasgow Museums is the largest museum service in the UK outside London and operates 10 venues across the city, including the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA). The civic collection includes over 1 million objects and has been described as the finest civic collection in the UK and one of the finest in northern Europe.  It is of international significance, with strength and depth across the four major disciplines: art, human history, natural science and transport and technology.

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Glasgow’s Gallery Of Modern Art (GoMA) is the most visited modern art gallery in Scotland.  It is housed in an iconic building in the heart of Glasgow, which it shares with the city centre library.  GoMA plays an important part in the city’s rich heritage.

The contemporary programme plays a key role in continuing the tradition of collecting and connects to the overall collection in a number of ways. Recent key exhibitions such as Unsettled Objects (2009), Tales of the City (2012), GENERATION (2014), Alasdair Gray Season: Spheres of Influence I (2014) and Ripples on the Pond (2015), all combined recent acquisitions by contemporary artists with work from the modern art collection to great acclaim.


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