Maria Eichhorn is a German artist based in Berlin who has been exhibiting since the late 1980s. Her works often enact a social situation and involve an analysis of institutions. In general, Eichhorn’s works offer an interrogation of how power is distributed and unveil the abstract aspect of economies. “The work of Maria Eichhorn is layered and complex, rich and textured, both literal and metaphysical and often highly poetic and allusive.“1 This exhibition will be the first time Eichhorn’s work has been seen in Vancouver, and the Belkin is presenting two ongoing projects, Prohibited Imports (2003/08 and 2015) and Film Lexicon of Sexual Practices (1999/2005/2008/2014/2015), that are augmented on this occasion with newly commissioned works added to each series.
The first iteration of Prohibited Imports was realized for an exhibition in Tokyo in 2003. For this occasion, Eichhorn sent several parcels of books from Berlin to Tokyo between 2000 and 2002 on the assumption that Japanese customs would open the parcels and censor the books. The book Mapplethorpe: Die große Werkmonographie, among many others, was censored by the customs authorities at Tokyo’s Narita Airport, and was displayed in the 2003 exhibition alongside an uncensored copy of the same book. Unlike Canadian customs practice, which involves the seizure and then destruction of offending published material, the censors in Japan altered the images with a kind of sandpaper pen, scratching the paper and rubbing off the layer of printing ink from the paper’s surface and ultimately replacing parts of images with a white nimbus. For the exhibition at the Belkin Art Gallery, Eichhorn made new photographs of censored pages from three of the books she had sent between 2000 and 2002 to Tokyo: Jeff Koons, Wolfgang Tillmans and the Kinsey Institute. By coincidence, one of the works censored in the Tillmans book is in the Belkin’s permanent collection.
Film Lexicon of Sexual Practices, begun in 1999, consists of 20 three-minute long (the length of a roll) 16 mm films. Each film depicts in a single shoot a close-up of the sexual activity named in the respective title – Anal coitus, Mouth, French kissing, for example. Every time the work is exhibited, new films are produced. This is the fifth time the work has been shown and the Belkin has commissioned three new films for the exhibition: Japanese bondage, Wax play and Needle play. Visitors to the exhibition can choose films from the titles listed on the wall and request the films to be screened by the attending projectionist.
The Belkin Art Gallery is preparing a catalogue to accompany the exhibition, with essays by Pamela M. Lee and Nina Power.
Maria Eichhorn has been made possible with support from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen e.V. Stuttgart, and the Audain Foundation, the Christopher Foundation, Nicola Flossbach, Henning and Brigitte Freybe, the Michael O’Brian Family Foundation, the Phil Lind Foundation, and Scott Watson and Hassan El Sherbiny through their membership in the Belkin Curator’s Forum.
1 Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, “Notes on some works by Maria Eichhorn,” Afterall: A Journal of Art, Context, and Enquiry 1 (1999), p. 30.
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