Colloquially referred to around town as the Boros Bunker, the Boros Collection & Residence is now one of the most coveted slices of architecture in all Berlin, though its current state of prestige has been hard earned. Considered a scar on the face of the historically conscious city until the not so distant past, the colossal 3,000 square-meter former air raid bunker was erected in 1942 by forced-labor under the direction of architect Albert Speer, based on plans by architect Karl Bonatz. From its sobering roots of protecting travelers at the Friedrichstrasse Railway station from the city’s frequent bombings, the bunker has since undergone several transformations, adding to the modern day exhibition space’s charged atmosphere. Its eclectic post-war past ranged from a vegetable and tropical fruit storage facility to a composite of S&M clubs in the 90s. Strolling through its chambers, one can see chipped paint from the clubs’ clandestine black rooms on the now brightly lit walls, deliberately left partially intact as fading demarcations of the property’s former, more subversive persona.
Since being purchased in 2003 and refurbished from 2004-2007, its most recent incarnation is now an historic landmark legally registered as a private home with “a cellar”. Hiding behind three meters of solid concrete in this “cellar” is one of the most well-known and celebrated contemporary art collections in Berlin, presenting four-year semi-permanent exhibitions that sample the acquisitions from the early 90s onward of Polish-born collector and advertising entrepreneur Christian Boros and his wife Karen Lohmann. The exhibition’s space is spread over eighty rooms, with a 1,000 square-meter private penthouse apartment perched on top and has played host to more than 120,000 visiting guests, tallied in small intimate groups of twelve—the legal limit for visitors of a private home.
Klara Lidén, installation view, Teenage Room, 2009; ©NOSHE, Courtesy of Sammlung Boros, Berlin.
Since 2008, the Bunker had exhibited Sammlung Boros #1, an exhibition born out of the couple’s private collection featuring artists such as Monika Sosnonska, Anselm Reyle and Katja Strunz. Its second exhibition, appropriately titled Sammlung Boros #2, was unveiled during this year’s fledgling Berlin Art Week. From a collection spanning some 700 works in total, 130 have been selected for this second showing including such artists as Ai Weiwei, Cosima von Bonin, Olafur Eliasson, Wolfgang Tillmans, Thomas Ruff, and Alicia Kwade, whose works are peppered liberally throughout the entire exhibition, works like Unter anderer Bedingung (2008) & Andere Bedingung (Aggregatzustand 4) (2009) among them. Differing greatly from its former installment, #2 is heavily sensual. It relies on multiple soundscapes and spatial interventions such as Berlin-based Manon Awst & Benjamin Walther’s Latent Measures (Component 17) and olfactory experiments such as Michael Sailstorfer’s popcorn machine that at once entices a crowd as its smell wafts though the building and oppresses as one grows nearer. Similarly, Sailstorfer’s Zeit ist keine Autobahn, Frankfurt (2008), in which a motion activated car tire grinds on the wall, produces an eerie halting sound and gives off that distinct smell of warning and burning rubber. The result is a sense-based excursion that draws direct attention to the space and the viewer interacting with it. Other examples include the jarring sounds of Alicia Kwade’s installation of humming and flickering fluorescent lights on the first floor, or her amplified sound of a modified train station clock that resonates across the rooms and seems to dictate visitors’ movements subconsciously.
Danh Vo, installation view, Numbers (6), 2011; Trio, 2010; We the people (detail), 2011; ©NOSHE, Courtesy of Sammlung Boros, Berlin.
Among the other artists included are Marieta Chirulescu, Thea Djordjadze, Klara Lidén, Florian Meisenberg, Roman Ondák, Stephen G. Rhodes, Tomás Saraceno, Thomas Scheibitz, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Danh Vo, Cerith Wyn Evans und Thomas Zipp. The exhibition is currently scheduled until 2015.
(Image on top: Thomas Ruff; installation view, Stern 13h 18m/-60°, 1992; Stern 10h 51 m/-20°, 1992; Stern 05h 08m/-65°, 1990; ©NOSHE; Courtesy of Sammlung Boros, Berlin.)