The Feuerle Deception

So, to begin the season with and because I had friends from Madrid staying over, I thought it would be a nice one to finally go and check out the Feuerle Collection in Berlin (Sammlung Feuerle).


To make it clear at the very beginning: This little report will tell you not to go, unless you want to waste your time, be scammed, or else have spacial interests (whatever). But it is quite obvious to me that this venue is trying to emulate a level of sophistication which it definitely only achieves in the vain sense. Because what you get to see for 18 Euros is devoid of any meaning whatsoever (at least considering the huge charlatanism they produce in order to impress the visitor).


Quite a bit of pretension is generated at the very beginning to have you think that you are going to enter a holy place with a special atmosphere. No pictures take, obviously, and please very quiet voices. The aura is created as a narrative that you are supposed to follow. Truth as construction. Read Walter Benjamin and you will have a better time …

The first room is one devoid of light and is dedicated to cleaning the mind. For two minutes and in total darkness you listen to a piece by John Cage in order to prepare for what is to come. Really?

And that what is to come is something that can be summarized by the simple word juxtaposition, which these days seems to be the last resort if there is nothing more adequate that you can do. Basically if there is no content for you to deliver.

A word on juxtaposition. The placing of one thing next to the other, usually things that seem to be disconnected, to create something new or interesting, to pose a question, to be inspiring even, is something that is not too hard to do, one should think. However, it’s a doing that requires at least a minimum of thought of the juxtaposing creator. A minimum!

Such is the case with a little exhibition that one can still visit in Berlin and that I highly recommend: “Beyond Compare: Art from Africa in the Bode-Museum”. Sculptural pieces from Europe from the Middle Ages on have been combined throughout the museum with sculptural pieces from Africa. Some of the combinations have you compare a mere similarity in morphology. Some have you think of a resemblance in iconography. Some of the pieces seem to have served a similar function … but maybe not? Very interesting encounters that inspire thought on various aspects of art production and also have you think about the concept of art in general (I know this one is kind of generic, but sometimes it does lead you there).


None of that is to be found on Désiré Feuerle’s site. You are shown two rooms (sic!) with (admittedly) well illuminated pieces of Cambodia, some furniture of China and then mainly photography of current times (plus some sculpture, Anish Kapoor and Cristina Iglesias to name some).

In the lower room you can look at an “artificial lake” that has been installed in an adjacent space, which plays with the fact that most of the sculptures were originally placed in temples where rivers and lakes were not far. Now that sounds deep (sorry for the pun, I couldn’t resist the shallowness … ups, again).

No information in the rooms on anything to be seen as you are supposed to let go and make this a very special journey of the senses, falling into the depth of an aesthetic perception and allowing inspiration to take hold of you … After 20 minutes you are ushered into the upper room which is clad with even less concept. That’s were you find the Chinese furniture (yes, of imperial origin, but hey, how about stopping by at your local ethnographic museum?) and that’s also where, unless you have any questions, you are free to leave the same way you got in.

Clearly, the idea of having a bunker, in Berlin (obviously), to show parts of your art collection seemed like a good idea a couple of years ago. Some other dominant minds of our time have done that previously and one has to admit with greater mastery. If the major concept of this site is to combine Berlin’s roughness (still?) with the sophistication of ancient Asian artefacts, then clearly it’s what you get. A misunderstanding of what an interesting presentation is all about.

If you were interested in the so-called “Incense Room” then look further. It is something that is not on display for the money you pay. That one is not for the dirty and lower crowds.

It’s the very typical thing: attract people with a bunker and have them think they see something meaningful. Most people will look at the container, or the wrapping, if you so want, such that the void inside goes unnoticed.

By the way, if what you want to see is a bunker, go try Berliner Unterwelten. Better, honest, more content. Definitely (better) value for money.