Since the 1980s Maria Eichhorn’s projects have discreetly countered anticipations of definable works of art.

Her concise formulations balance finely between conceptual clarity and indeterminacy, expanding the materiality of the art object as event or possibility. They are decidedly open-ended, bringing forth a glimpse of ourthinking in process as we struggle to produce meaning.

Her work Curtain (1989-2001) could serve as an example of an action with a certain definition that changes its shape and meaning over time. A series often differently coloured curtains are hung in sequence in different places over a number of years. Each time the curtain is accompanied by a different element: textual contributions by six different authors, an exhibition or a series of anti-nuclear lectures.

Think of the work of Fluxus, John Cage or Marcel Duchamp as historical data and add an active political dimension. To Eichhorn the event of art constitutes a concrete opportunity to participate in a system of social and political processes. How can this event negotiate between the symbolic and the real?

With Han Panosu/Billboard (1995) she made a billboard available in Taksim Square, Istanbul to be used by political groups, thus creating a changing display of multiple perspectives.

Multiplicity indirectly subverts the voice of authority. The allusive tactics Maria Eichhorn employs transform the conditioned response within specific cultural and institutional contexts not by opposition but through participation. Her work embraces candour, inference, speculation, humour and intellectual rigour as libertarian possibilities of interpretation, without putting these in a hierarchical organisation. Nor is it necessarily through seeing that we gain our most fulfilling experience; we may need to shift our awareness to the other senses, including thought.

For International 04 Maria Eichhorn presented A Stay in Belfast (2004), the evidence of a two-day sojourn in Belfast by the artist. With seven flights and two boat journeys each day, Liverpool and Belfast are intimately related, but who is travelling and what is the nature of their business? What does this reveal about the action undertaken by the artist?

Can we set free our imagination to construct a new reality? Following the rupture of our anticipation of a definable work of art, can we trust our intelligence to probe this openness or do we hold fast to the traditions of our old moorings? In setting up questions rather than providing answers, A Stay in Belfast (2004) created space for reflection by refuting our pre-emptive desire for a rationale.

A Stay in Belfast, (2004)
Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial 2004
Exhibited at the Albert Dock



The Institut fur Auslandsbeziehungen