For its national pavilion at the 2022 Venice Biennale in Italy, Germany has picked Maria Eichhorn, a mainstay at European biennials whose work frequently deals with the knotty relationships between money, politics, art, and institutions. Yilmaz Dziewior, director of the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, will curate the pavilion.
Eichhorn, who is based in Berlin, is widely known in the European art circuit for her deft conceptual artworks that largely take the form of behind-the-scenes transactions and the documentation of them. Her most famous works have involved the formation of a company and the closure of a gallery, and their display is often unshowy.
Her first work that drew major attention was Maria Eichhorn Aktiengesellschaft (2002), which the artist showed at Okwui Enwezor’s Documenta 11 in 2002. For that piece, Eichhorn diverted funds from the German quinquennial to establish a company. The work was intended to question what it means to own property, since no one could buy any shares—Eichhorn is its sole board member and its only stakeholder. It was later acquired by the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, though it is not officially owned by the museum, per Eichhorn’s stipulation for how her business functions.
Eichhorn made headlines once again in 2016 with 5 weeks, 25 days, 175 hours (2016), for which the artist shuttered the Chisenhale Gallery in London for the titular period of time. The space’s staff took a long vacation and received full pay in the process. And in 2017, for Documenta 14, Eichhorn created the Rose Valland Institute, a project focused on the expropriation of property that was once owned by European Jews during World War II. Its namesake is an art historian who chronicled the looting of art by Nazis, and it aimed to promote research on homes and land that were taken from their former owners.
“Maria Eichhorn is the artist I have always wanted to see in the German Pavilion at the Venice Biennale,” Dziewior said in a statement. “Because in my view there are few artists who address themselves to German history and its impact on the present in as multifaceted and intensive a manner as Maria Eichhorn.”
The Venice Biennale is currently slated to run from April 23, 2022–November 27, 2022, with Cecilia Alemani set to curate the main exhibition. It was originally slated to open in 2021, but was pushed last year due to the pandemic.