The Boros Collection is the private collection of contemporary art by Karen and Christian Boros, the founder of a German advertising agency. It is housed in a converted WWII era air-raid shelter in Berlin-Mitte, in former East Berlin, that subsequently served as a prison, a warehouse for tropical fruit and a techno club. In 2003 Karen and Christian Boros acquired the bunker to convert it into an exhibition space and a private residence. The couple now live in a glass penthouse on top of the bunker.
The Boros Collection had been high on my Berlin to do list since I first read about it. Contemporary art in a former bunker? Count me in.
The Boros Collection can be visited by appointment only and in small groups and only on Fridays and during the weekend.
I was disappointed that photography is not allowed, all the more so because there are photos online by people who visited during Berlin Art Week and apparently ignored the ban. Photography for me is a way of engaging with the world. It forces me to focus my attention and to look more closely. Of course, photos also serve as a memory aid and that for me is particularly relevant when visiting a museum. Most art museums now allow photography. I understand that it can disturb the sanctity of a space. But if people want to take selfies in front of an artwork let them.
The guided tour is an hour and a half of art gallery sales talk, which made me wonder whether Boros is also an art dealer, like Charles Saatchi, and whether the whole purpose of the exhibition is to preserve or enhance the market value of the artists included in the collection. The tour also didn’t leave time to visit all the rooms and to just contemplate a work or an installation without the chatter of the guide.
I found most of the artworks included in the third collection presentation of little or no intrinsic interest. It was all just a dime a dozen contemporary art. There was nothing that stood out, but of course I didn’t have time to explore the exhibition on my own.
What IS interesting about the presentation is the space. Traces of the building’s previous uses remain visible. Against a background of a stained graffiti covered concrete walls the works on show take on a different dimension.
So I’m in two minds: I don’t regret visiting the Boros Collection, I just wish I had been able to wander around on my own to contemplate the works on show and take some photos.