Steina (b. 1940) is a pioneering video artist who has been producing work since the 1960s. She moved from Reykjavík to Prague in 1959 to study the violin and there met her husband, the film maker Woody Vasulka. In 1965 they relocated to New York where Steina gradually came to focus on electronic media and video art.
With Woody, she began showing video art, and in 1971 they founded The Kitchen, which has been a powerful force in shaping a cultural landscape in the US. It was among the very first American institutions to embrace the emerging fields of video, performance, and cross-disciplinary explorations. An internationally acclaimed institution, the Kitchen is one of New York’s oldest and most active nonprofit art centers, and has helped launch the careers of many artists who have gone on to worldwide prominence.
Together they also worked to develop the Center for Media Studies at the State University of New York in Buffalo. Although Steina and Woody have often collaborated in their art, Steina’s own approach has resulted in an extensive body of work, which includes both video art and performances. She often uses the violin to create not only sound but also images by manipulating the signal through electronic means. Steina’s work has a strong lyrical quality, which is perhaps most clearly expressed in her series of multi-screen video installations using images of landscapes in Iceland and New Mexico, where she and Woody settled in 1980. She has explored the entire range of possibilities in video art and electronic media, from documentaries to purely machine-generated art.
Her work has been exhibited at major museums and festivals around the world, including the Whitney Museum, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Berlin Film Festival, and the National Gallery of Art in Reykjavík. Steina became a Guggenheim Fellow in 1976, and in 1997 she represented Iceland at the Biennale di Venezia.
In 2014, the Vasulka Chamber, a center of electronic and digital art in Iceland, was established at the National Gallery of Iceland. The Vasulka Chamber is a collaboration with Steina and Woody Vasulka, and includes a part of the Vasulkas’ archive.