Duty Free Art


2015, 00:38:16, 1080p25, color, sound

Duty Free Art is a lecture by Hito Steyerl, which she gave in 2015 at Artists Space in New York, focusing on the economic implications of art. Free trade zones – in which speculative art investments are invisibly bought and sold, tax-free – are an important backbone of the international art business, and function similarly to civil wars. Both facilitate the redistribution of the public good into private hands, and act as a catalyst for global inequality. Steyerl also uses WikiLeaks documents to show how the Louvre in Paris, the British Museum in London, and starchitect Rem Koolhaas served the Syrian Assad regime as museum planners and gentrifiers. Steyerl describes these as the top-down organized conditions of contemporary art production. She proposes a reversal of perspective – in order to reveal from the bottom up – the forces of global economic redistribution that are hidden in art.