EventsSeen Beyond

Building an Unowned Property

Stavropoulou 15

Learning from Athens

After all disappointments at documenta 14th in Athens one of the participating artists has created the most impressing artworks of the show with the Rose Valland Institute . With this work the artist Maria Eichhorn – based in Germany – is one of the only artists who fits the slogan of this years world show – Learning from Athens

Tow weeks after the opening comes word from Documenta that Maria Eichhorn’s contribution to the quinquennial is a project called the Rose Valland Institute, which “searches and documents the expropriation of Europe’s Jewish population as well as its past and continuing impact.” In anticipation of a September 11–12 workshop that it will host in Kassel, the institute is looking for papers about “orphaned Property in Europe.”

The artist is attempting to turn an empty building in central Athens into a ‘property with protected use of “no use” and thus no right to the property rights exercised’.-

The two-storey old building in the center of Athens is for sale, in the offer of the broker it says: The area was once an elegant quarter, in which above all the upper middle class lived It is now possible to find the best value for money in this area.

The artist bid 140 000 Euro for the old building. Lawyers are currently investigating the property relations on their behalf. Only if the complete clarification is clear and the building is free from mortgages, it can be bought. If everything works, at least the purchase is finished in the next weeks.

Maria Eichhorn don’t want to move into the building. She don’t want to use it for herself. She wants to turn the building into an Unowned Property. She was to make the building forever impossible to be owned by somebody, making it to an general owned piece of art.

If everything goes well, Maria Eichhorn will organize the last purchase in the history of this house, to free it forever from owners. Eichhorn does not exclude the fact that residence will live, paint and discusse there . The Swiss Migros Museum finances the work and also will decide on the use. Artist residence, exhibition space, homeless asylum: everything will be possible.

The process initiated by Maria Eichhorn is a legal novelty. Legal consultants have developed a strategy: the prerequisite is that the house is given the status of a “contemporary cultural object” that “needs the protection of the Greek state, so that the artistic value of a historical memory can be preserved” from the moment on, the building and the property can no longer be acquired by anyone in the legal sense.

In recent years thousands of properties have been abandoned by their owners in Greece. In 2016 alone, the statistics recorded a good 10,000 cases. The reason is the impoverishment of the Greeks, who are often unable to afford land and home ownership.

Building an Unowned Property takes this dramatic situation as a starting point.

If Maria Eichhorn is able to complete her work, the building will be worthless for all who benefit from land, buildings, rents, mortgages. An eternal vacancy in the map, a new form of ruin. But because the house is still there because you can live and work under this roof, the Building an Unowned Property project is probably the most future-proof accommodation to be found in a place like Athens.

The the building will become the Rose Valland Institute – as intended by Maria Eichhorn – an independent interdisciplinary project. It researches and documents the expropriation of Europe’s Jewish population as well as its past and continuing impact.



Thomas Büsch

Filmmaker, Founding Member and Secretary General of diyalog, promotion of cultural exchange with Turkey. Since 2012 he is also project manager of InEnArt.

Leave a Reply