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Sir Steve McQueen OBE, CBE

Born, 1969 in London, UK

McQueen studied at Chelsea and Goldsmiths, graduating from the latter college in 1993. He lives in Amsterdam and represented Britain at the 53rd Venice Biennale of summer 2009. For the most part, his practice has been film-based. His earlier works (silent films) were filmed in black and white. In these pieces, the still image and the repeated sequence were dominant characteristics. Eclipsing Tracey Emin, he won the Turner Prize in 1999. McQueen’s first feature film, Hunger was released to widespread critical acclaim in 2008. For this film he received the Camera d’Or for debut directors. McQueen has generated and secured an enormous amount of press and media coverage over the course of his career thus far.

From the archived Documenta 11 website: www.documenta12.de//archiv/d11/data/english/index.html

“Physically imploring the aid of the viewer, Steve McQueen sets an organic experience of narration against the aggressive superficiality of the image that seems to have become the dominant form of representation in our culture. In Western Deep (2002), filmed in super-8, McQueen takes us on a journey: the descent into one of the deepest gold mines in the world in South Africa. The images are oppressive and claustrophobic: intermittent lights and abrupt sounds, an endless and vertical succession of rocky walls, fragments of the sweaty bodies of an exhausted population of miners. Accompanying Western Deep, Carib’s Leap (2002, both films were commissioned for Documenta11) uses an historical event as a starting point: the mass suicide of the Carib Indians on the island of Grenada in 1651 in resistance to French invasion of their territory. Marked by the French with a catholic church, the cliff on the most northern part of the island from which the Caribs jumped to their death, still called Carib’s Leap today, is featured prominently in this film. McQueen accomplishes that we experience both works literally rather than merely visually. From the infinite suffering of Purgatory to the hollow hope of a paradise devoid of meaning, these works constitute a powerful commentary on the most extreme forms of violence to which a human being can be subjected: slave work and colonial domination, ultimate forms of instrumentalization of subjectivity.”

Along with Tracey Emin, Steven Pippin, and Jane and Louise Wilson, Steve McQueen was shortlisted for the Turner Prize 1999, “for his exhibitions at the Institute of Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, and Kunsthalle, Zürich, which documented his original and uncompromising approach to film installations, including a major new piece, Drumroll, and his innovative presentation of work in other media.” McQueen was only the second Black British artist to win the Turner Prize. The first, Chris Ofili, was the previous year’s winner.

Both the above quotes come from the introduction to the Turner Prize catalogue, which also contained introductions - both written and visual - to these artists’ work.

McQueen was knighted in the New Year Honours list of 2020 - recognised for services to art and film. Several years previouisly he became the first Black film-maker to win the best picture Oscar, for 2013’s 12 Years a Slave.

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Related exhibitions + view all 11

Related venues - view 5

»  Artangel

London, United Kingdom

»  The British Pavilion, Venice

Venice, Italy

»  Documenta Halle

Kassel, Germany

»  Fundació Antoni Tàpies

Barcelona, Spain

»  Goldsmiths College

London, United Kingdom

»  Institute for Contemporary Art Cape Town

Cape Town, South Africa

»  Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA)

London, United Kingdom

»  Kunsthalle Zurich

Zurich, Switzerland

»  Mead Gallery, Warwick Arts Centre

Coventry, United Kingdom

»  Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo

São Paulo, Brazil

»  Portikus Frankfurt

Frankfurt, Germany

»  Prada Foundation

Milan, Italy

»  Sala Mendoza

Caracas, Venezuela

»  Tate Britain

London, United Kingdom