Rose Valland Institute Call for Papers
Orphaned Property in Europe

Library of books looted by Nazis and purchased in 1943 by the Berliner Stadtbibliothek (Municipal Library of Berlin), from a case study for Maria Eichhorn’s Rose Valland Institute, 2017, photo: Jens Ziehe. Courtesy Zentral- und Landesbibliothek Berlin.

The Rose Valland Institute is an art project initiated by Maria Eichhorn within the context of documenta 14. The Institute is going public for the first time with a call for papers focusing on the topic of Orphaned Property in Europe.

The Rose Valland Institute is an independent interdisciplinary project. It researches and documents the expropriation of Europe’s Jewish population as well as its past and continuing impact. The Institute was named after the art historian Rose Valland, who secretly recorded details of the Nazi plundering of state-owned French and private Jewish-owned art from France during the German occupation of Paris. After the war, she worked for the Commission de Récupération Artistique (Commission for the Recovery of Works of Art) and made major contributions to the restitution of art stolen by the Nazis.

Building on the basis of insights gained from Maria Eichhorn’s previous exhibition projects Restitutionspolitik / Politics of Restitution, 2003, and In den Zelten …, in 2015, the Rose Valland Institute devotes itself to the issue of unresolved property and ownership relationships from 1933 to the present day. The Institute investigates fundamental issues connected with ownership of artworks, property, real estate, assets, companies, moveable objects and artefacts, and libraries, as well as scientific works and patents that were acquired by illegal means from Jewish citizens in Germany and in the occupied countries during the Nazi era and still have not been returned.

The Rose Valland Institute was founded within the context of documenta 14 and will be based in the Neue Galerie in Kassel from June 10 to September 17, 2017.

Orphaned Property in Europe Workshop

Date: September 11–12, 2017
Location: Rose Valland Institute, Schöne Aussicht 1, 34117 Kassel, Germany

The workshop will be conducted by the provenance researchers Małgorzata A. Quinkenstein and Nathalie Neumann.
The workshop focuses on orphaned property in areas of Europe under dictatorial occupation during the period from 1933 to 1949. Three distinct phases have been identified, each characterized by different involved parties and patterns of behavior:

1933–1939 Systematic expropriation of Jewish property in Germany and Austria
1939–1945 Systematic expropriation, spontaneous looting, and random destruction in the occupied territories
1945–1949 Appropriation, seizure, looting, and destruction

The workshop will discuss the following questions:

  • Through which processes was the category of “private property” dissolved during the Nazi regime?
  • What forms of discourse accompanied the appropriation of orphaned property in the paradigm between need and greed?
  • How do the ties of the new property holders to the orphaned properties affect their social networks in time and space?

Individual presentations should consider the following aspects:

  • What initial historical situations led to the change in possession?
  • How do subsequent generations reflect upon their inheritance of orphaned property?
  • How can this reflection be made public?
  • What forms of cooperation exist between the current owners of orphaned property and involved parties from science and institutions?
  • What political opportunities could help clarify the process of appropriation of orphaned property by private persons?
  • Practice-oriented results that helped resolve the status of orphaned property

The workshop is an event organized by the Rose Valland Institute in the context of documenta 14 in Kassel.

If you are interested in taking part in the workshop, please email an abstract (max. length: 1,800 characters) in English as well as a short CV to Valentina Ehnimb no later than May 5, 2017: valentina.ehnimb [​at​] Based on the submitted abstracts, selected participants will be invited to present lectures. The lectures will be discussed at the workshop together with Małgorzata A. Quinkenstein, Nathalie Neumann, and invited experts.

Posted in News on 03.30.2017