Artist

Maria Eichhorn’s artistic projects are usually processual in nature and aspire to illuminate and transform existing social orders.

Within the context of her work, she often poses the question of ownership. On the occasion of the Sculpture. Projects in Münster 1997, Eichhorn explored the topic of land holding and purchased a plot in the city center. When she sold the property, she donated the proceeds to an organization that combats gentrification. For her presentation at the Documenta11 in Kassel she founded the Maria Eichhorn Aktiengesellschaft [Maria Eichhorn Public Limited Company] (2002), whose share capital was withdrawn from the monetary cycle and whose shares were transferred to the company itself. Her exhibition Restitutionspolitik / Politics of Restitution (2003) at the Lenbachhaus in Munich marked the beginning of her search for artworks stolen from Jewish ownership in the Nazi era—a topic she continued to pursue in later projects. For her contribution to the exhibition Wohnungsfrage [Housing Question] at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, she realized a work entitled In den Zelten 4 / 5 / 5a / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 9a / 10, Kronprinzenufer 29 / 30, Beethovenstraße 1 / 2 / 3 (1832 to 1959) > John-Foster-Dulles-Allee 10 (since 1959), Berlin (2015) to determine the ownership structure of the property on which the building was erected. Consisting among other things of floor drawings, excerpts from the registry of deeds, and related texts, this work exposes the fact that the Kongresshalle (now the Haus der Kulturen der Welt) was built partially on expropriated land for which restitution should have been paid. For Building as Unowned Property (2017–), the work she presented at the documenta 14, she purchased a property in Athens in order to convert it into unowned property, and founded the Rose Valland Institute (2017–) in Kassel for research on the dispossession of Europe’s Jewish population and its lingering effects until the present.

Maria Eichhorn concerns herself as intensively with the relationship between ownership and possession as with that between work, value, and time. Her exhibition 5 weeks, 25 days, 175 hours (2016) at the Chisenhale Gallery in London consisted in giving all the employees time out from their work. The institution remained closed for the duration of the show. The same year, Maria Eichhorn had the city of Cologne hire her as a research associate at the Museum Ludwig and, in a work called Employment Contract between the City of Cologne, Represented by the Mayor, and Ms. Maria Eichhorn (2016), addressed herself to the status society assigns to artistic work.

Maria Eichhorn was born in Bamberg in 1962 and lives in Berlin. She studied with Karl Horst Hödicke at the Berlin University of the Arts between 1984 and 1990. She has been teaching as a professor since 1999, initially as a guest professor at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia and since 2003 at the Zurich University of the Arts.

In addition to her participation in the documenta in Kassel in 2002 and in Athens and Kassel in 2017, Maria Eichhorn has participated in the Biennale di Venezia several times (2015, 2001, 1993) as well as in numerous other international biennials, for example in Guangzhou (2008), Berlin (2008, 2004), Sevilla (2006), Istanbul (2005, 1995), Łódź (2004), and Yokohama (2001) and in the Sculpture. Projects in Münster 1997. She has been exhibiting her work in prestigious institutions since 1986. From 2018 to 2019, the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst in Zurich presented an extensive monographic show of her work entitled Zwölf Arbeiten / Twelve Works (1988–2018). Solo exhibitions featuring Maria Eichhorn have also taken place at the Chisenhale Gallery in London (2016), the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery in Vancouver (2015), the Kunsthaus Bregenz (2014), the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven (2007–2010), the Lenbachhaus in Munich (2003), the Kunsthalle Bern (2001), the Portikus in Frankfurt am Main (1999), the Kunsthaus Zürich (1997), and elsewhere. Eichhorn’s work has moreover been on view in numerous group exhibitions, for example at the MACRO—Museo d’Arte Contemporanea di Roma (2021), the Jewish Museum in New York (2021, 2016), the IVAM—Institut Valencià d’Art Modern (2019), the Swiss Institute in New York (2018, 2009), the Museum Ludwig in Cologne (2016, 2010), the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (2015), the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin (2015), the mumok—Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig in Vienna (2015, 2013), the Jeu de Paume in Paris (2013), the Centre Pompidou in Paris (2009), the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London (2009), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2008), the Hamburger Bahnhof—Museum für Gegenwart in Berlin (2008, 2002, 2001), the Museo de Arte Carillo Gil in Mexico City (2003), the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2000, 1992), the Castello di Rivoli—Museo d’Arte Contemporanea in Turin (1996), the Serpentine Gallery in London (1995), the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid (1994), the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney (1993), and the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome (1991).

Maria Eichhorn’s publications include the Film Lexicon of Sexual Practices / Prohibited Imports (2019); Maria Eichhorn Werkverzeichnis / Catalogue Raisonné 1986–2015 (2017); 5 weeks, 25 days, 175 hours (2016); In den Zelten 4 / 5 / 5a / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 9a / 10, Kronprinzenufer 29 / 30, Beethovenstraße 1 / 2 / 3 (1832 bis/to 1959) > John-Foster-Dulles-Allee 10 (seit/since 1959), Berlin (2015); Die Zeitkapsel im Wasserfall der Steinach / The Time Capsule in the Waterfall on the Steinach River (2012); The Artist’s Contract: Interviews with Carl Andre, Daniel Buren, Paula Cooper, Hans Haacke, Jenny Holzer, Adrian Piper, Robert Projansky, Robert Ryman, Seth Siegelaub, John Weber, Lawrence Weiner, Jackie Winsor (2009); Between Artists (with John Miller, 2008); Maria Eichhorn Aktiengesellschaft (2007); von 12,37 bis 36,08 = 24,94 von 100% (2007); CAMPUS: Politische Mündigkeit / Political Responsibility / Emancipazione politica (2005); Restitutionspolitik / Politics of Restitution (2004); and Das Geld der Kunsthalle Bern / Money at Kunsthalle Bern (2001/2002). In 2017, Maria Eichhorn launched the website www.rosevallandinstitut.org.

Among the awards Maria Eichhorn has received for her work are the George Maciunas Prize (1992), the Arnold Bode Prize of the City of Kassel (2002), and the Paolo Bozzi Prize for Ontology of the University of Turin (2018). From 2018 to 2020 she was a Georg Simmel grant recipient as well as a fellow at the Käte Hamburger Center for Advanced Study in the Humanities “Law as Culture” of the Bonn University, which, in cooperation with the Department of Art History, housed her Rose Valland Institute. Since 2020, Eichhorn has been a research fellow of the Berlin Artistic Research Grant Programme. In 2021 she will receive the Käthe Kollwitz Prize of the Academy of Arts in Berlin.

Maria Eichhorn, photo: Jens Ziehe
Maria Eichhorn, photo: Jens Ziehe