Banana Bunker

March 28, 2011 § 2 Comments


Even in this progressive, bohemian city, reminders of war are everywhere. Awkwardly shaped parks reveal watch towers from the Wall era. An ornate cathedral discloses gaping holes in its nave — now a courtyard garden. Indestructible air raid shelters, showing distress from bullets and bombs, gets adapted into theater space.

The extent of the damage (physically, psychologically) is impossible to grasp. But the resolve is pretty remarkable.

In 2003, a monolithic Nazi bunker in Mitte (used as a Red Army prison, Cuban fruit storage unit – nicknamed Banana Bunker – then ’90s underground fetish club) caught the eye of a prominent art collector named Christian Boros before catching the wrecking ball.

A team of architects and curators spent years carving up the four-story building (the walls are 10 feet thick in some places!), to create an interior with the right light and flow for displaying a wild collection of contemporary art.

Artists were invited to the bunker to install their work as they saw fit. In some cases, they changed their works to comply to the space; in others, construction was done to accommodate the art. Some of it is quite heady. Some of it just makes you feel very good (or very bad, depending on the artist). The overall effect is pretty mesmerizing. You have to book weeks (or months!) in advance for a special guided tour of the Boros Collection, but it’s well worth the wait.

I wasn’t allowed to take photos. But I found a few images on the Internet:

A stunning (and very soothing) glass orb by Olafur Eliasson.

Santiago Sierra‘s uncompromising sculpture.

Anselm Reyle‘s stripe painting and reclaimed kitsch.

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