Maria Eichhorn

Biography of Maria Eichhorn

In her projects, Maria Eichhorn (born 1962 in Bamberg, Germany) inquires into the concept of art, wedging her work between the symbolic and the real, between the practice of art and actions geared at exploring the dynamic relationship between art, economics, public spaces, and institutional structures. Her work is conceptual and discrete, often containing instructions for actions or precise guidelines of implantation.


As a theoretical artist she is not invested in the production of artifacts, as is most notable from her show Maria Eichhorn Aktiengesellschaft (AG) in 2002 at documenta 11. Here she used her allotted project budget to found a stock corporation which, due to its peculiar set-up, could not attain any capital, diametrically opposing and therefore exposing the system's usual structure and goal which is primarily—and simply—that of increasing profits. Instead, Maria Eichhorn is most interested in gently exposing often-overlooked systems and setting up the conditions for something unexpected to emerge.


Another example of her work proving highly receptive to existing systems and contexts was her highly publicized 2015 show at London’s Chisenhale Gallery. In an attempt to examine contemporary labor conditions, Maria Eichhorn began her exhibition with a symposium during which she explored the working lives of the Chisenhale Gallery’s staff (and other participants). She then effectively requested the staff to withdraw their labor for the remaining weeks of the exhibition, and instead engage in leisure and free time. Key to this project was the belief in the importance of questioning notions of work, and questioning why within our current sociopolitical context, work and productivity are synonymous. Maria Eichhorn 2017 exhibition at documenta 14 was similarly socially engaged. Her interdisciplinary project titled Rose Valland Institute aimed to search and document the expropriation of the Jewish population of Europe, and to disclose its past as well as its continuing impact. 


Maria Eichhorn lives and works in Berlin and has exhibited at venues including the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the ICA in London, and the Kunstmuseum in Bern among others. She has also participated in international triennials and biennales, including the Third Guangzhou Triennial and the Istanbul Biennale. 


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