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Art Collection in a Bunker

Feuerle Collection opens a new private exhibition venue in Berlin

The new exhibition space of collector and art historian Désiré Feuerle is a telecommunication BASA-bunker form the World War II-era located in Berlin Kreuzberg which was for long term under water and that has been renovated by British architect John Pawson. It will showcase Feuerles private collection of international contemporary art including works from Cristina Iglesias, Anish Kapoor, Zeng Fanzhi, and James Lee Byars with imperial Chinese furniture and Southeast Asian Art.

The curatorial concept is following Feuerles tradition of recontextualizing different periods and cultures to create new perspectives and levels of perception. It will also be one of the main venues for the Berlin Biennale which will take place from 4 June to 18 September 2016. The public preview week is open from 29 April to 7 May 2016 in parallel with the Gallery Weekend Berlin.

Photo: Gilbert McCarragher via John Pawson

“It is difficult to think of places more charged with atmosphere than these monumental concrete structures. I knew from the beginning when I visited the site and first had that visceral experience of mass that I wanted to use as light a hand as possible. Concentrating all the effort on making pristine surfaces would never have felt appropriate here. Instead this has been a slow, considered process – a series of subtle refinements and interventions that intensify the quality of the space, so that all the attention focuses on the art.” – John Pawson


The visceral experience of mass in this civil engineering is intensifying the synesthetic perception evoked by dichotomy of time and space and creating an theatrical moment for the visitor, who is separated by the outside world by 2,5 to 3 meter thick walls. The hall in the basement is based on 27 pillars reflected into infinity through a sacral glass cube in which Incense ceremonies will take place and which is changing appearance in variation of lightning. The white-cube-like ground floor will be used for the Berlin Biennale and afterwards again for the whole Feuerle Collection.

Photo: Gilbert McCarragher via John Pawson

The pioneering concept of cross-cultural and multi-era combinations and its juxtaposition between ancient Asian and contemporary western art was shown before in Feuerles gallery in Cologne in the exhibitions “Eduardo Chillida and the Chinese neck rests of Ming and Song dynasties”, and “Anish Kapoor and Ban Chiang terracottas from 1500—3600 BC”. This time 7th-13th century Kmer sculptures in stone, bronze, and wood as well as imperial Chinese furniture spanning from the Han to the Qing dynasty (200 BC—18th century) will provoke a dialog with the contemporary works and challenge perception of the spectator.

The official grand opening will be celebrated after the Berlin Biennale in October, when both floors are dedicated to the permanent exhibition of Feuerle’s collection.


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.

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