Maria Eichhorn

Beyond the actual exhibition space, the Künstlerhaus contains a print shop, which is in the same building, and a children’s painting studio, which is in a building around the corner. For the duration of her exhibition, Maria Eichhorn moved the children’s workshop into the exhibition space and supervised its sessions. For each of six groups of children there were small tables and stools painted in bright colors. The children were provided with paint, paper, and pencils, and the project was explained to them.

Room, furniture, and material were givens. To prevent the children from becoming mere objects in the exhibition, the space was opened to the public only in the afternoon; only occasionally did the exhibition and the classes overlap. In the empty (childless) space, it became clear that the exhibition dealt with action, perhaps even process, rather than with contemplative perception. The tables were not lifeless, esthetic objects but furniture to be used by children. They are to keep this function even after the exhibition.

References to children’s art recur in art history. Most often, the concern is with its esthetic dimension—an artist who comes to mind is Paul Klee—and thus the direction is toward a finished product. Elsewhere, for example in the work of Tim Rollins + KOS, art becomes a social tool, but art as product still comes in through the back door. Eichhorn’s work here was not concerned with the children’s actual paintings. Rather, it was an intervention in space, a space where paths run together through actions rather than through esthetic criteria. It was action that was on exhibition, and cooperation, not the children or their products. Ultimately, the furnishings of the room were the materialization of this cooperation; the viewer saw the situation, not the results.

Sabine B. Vogel

Translated from the German by Charles V. Miller.