A regional court in the German city of Mannheim have ruled that an artist’s site-specific work in the city’s art museum can be destroyed and not rebuilt.

‘HHole’, which consists of a hole drilled through several stories of the building, was made by the artist Nathalie Braun Barends in 2006 during a residency in the museum. However, recent plans for expansion have meant that the museum have decided to remove it during the course of construction. 

Braun Barends took the museum to court, arguing her case on the basis of copyright legislation and also a history of artists using ‘nothing’ in the creation of their works.

The court ruled in favour of the museum, who argued that they were the owners and could do what they liked with their artwork. They also pointed out that there this work had been problematic from the start. The uncovered hole had presented a threat to health and safety, and a security guard had had to be employed to guard it at great expense.  Braun Barends had rejected the compromise of covering it with a protective perspex lid.

The artist has been awarded compensation of 66,000 Euros, and the building of the new Kunsthalle will proceed. In this case at least, less really does mean more.