Born in Prague in 1955, following the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968 she moved with her family to Canada, where she graduated in Fine Arts and where she continues to live and work in Montreal. Even today, her work remains impregnated with the ironic realism of Czech culture. Strongly conceptual, her works focus thematically on the body, a physical element associated with power, control, seduction and technology. Sterbak produces objects often resembling physical prostheses or technological bodily artefacts. In her performances, videos, objects and installations, she plays with irony, absurdity and basic emotions such as fear and desire.
Her work was first seen in Europe as part of the Aperto section of the Venice Biennale 1990, with the striking performance Remote Control. Since then, solo exhibitions include New Museum of Contemporary Art (1990) and MoMA, New York (1992), Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona (1995), Serpentine Gallery, London (1996), Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (2007) and Galerie im Taxispalast, Innsbruck (2016). She has participated in the biennials of Gwangju, South Korea (1995), Istanbul (1997) and Venice (2003). Collections include Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Vancouver Art Gallery, Musée d’art contemporain, Montreal; Fundació ”la Caixa”, Barcelona; and MACBA, Barcelona, among many others.
While there are ideas about psychological and emotional developmental processes held within the sculptures I make, the things themselves are actual physical explorations into thinking, feeling, communicating and relating.