Maria Eichhorn was born in 1961 in Bamberg, Germany. 1 She moved to Paris where she wanted to study languages but, instead, she became an artist. In 1983, she moved to Berlin, where she studied until 1990 at the Hochschule der Kunste in the class of the artist Karl Horst Hodicke. She then took a studio at the Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, a studio-residency programme in Berlin and showed in improvised, artist-run spaces such as Shin Shin or Galerie Vincenz Sala. In 1989 the Berlin Wall came down and she continued to work with the changing situation in the city as well as beyond it.
Her work has developed since the late 1980s as an exploration of the relationship between the symbolic and the real, between the practice of art and direct – albeit limited and exemplary – actions geared towards the bettering of personal life, social relations and the human and natural environments. It demonstrates a strong sense of ethics and the belief that radical oppositional thought and action are still and will always be possible. Her work is rarely spectacular and most often discreet.
Eichhorn recognises and develops both Fluxus libertarian gestures and strategies of conceptual art. As with conceptual art, she is not interested in the production of artefacts for exchange and does not privilege the visual in art over other modes of sensual and intellectual perception. However, contrary to most idea-based art of the first period, she is not interested in hierarchically placing verbal language over the visual, nor in creating tautologies or eliminating self-expression from the work of art. As with Fluxus ‘histories’ and chronicles, the vitality and ephemeral nature of the events, relationships and processes that Eichhorn enacts within – and as a consequence of – her works imply a need for rigorous documentation and a chronological vision that positions her work as a sequence of emblematic and exemplary ‘oppositional’ projects. Her work is almost always context-specific and in some way useful. She redirects artistic resources, such as production budgets or the ‘free zone’ attributed to art by the authorities, and engages them to counter losses of freedom and individual well-being in contemporary Western society. Though these projects appear as political in the broadest sense, no explicit party or ideological affiliation of her own is ever declared. In fact, almost all her works relate to some need, experience or desire of the people living and working in the place where she is invited to exhibit. More often than not, her proposals reveal a strong critical undercurrent and an almost anarchic questioning of power itself.
The work of Maria Eichhorn is layered and complex, rich and textured, both literal and metaphoric and often highly poetic and allusive. Yet, emerging at the end of the 1980s from a generation of self-expressive ‘wild painting’, it remains as little as possible a reflection of her own personal, expressive behaviour. Instead, she bases her productions on the belief that there are already many highly expressive behaviours in the world and her task is to provide some form of manifestation or outlet for them.
http://www.ftn-books.com has the below Eichhorn publication available: