Art in the Boiler Room – An Exhibition in Museum Kesselhaus Herzberge

By Sarah Magill . June 18, 2021

Preserve Memories – Provide Energy – harnessing the energy of the past in an interactive exhibition and event on July 10th and viewings from the 11th to the 14th.

One of the things I love most about living in Berlin is stumbling upon art in the most surprising places, and the Museum Kesselhaus Herzberge is perhaps my favourite discovery yet.

Inside the boiler room. Photo: Vincenzo Marrese

Tucked away in Landschaftspark Herzberge in my home Bezirk of Lichtenberg, the Kesselhaus (or boiler room) was built by renowned architect Hermann Blankenstein between 1889 and 1893 and used coal to provide energy for the hospital for nearly a century until finally closing its pipes in 1992.

On arriving at the museum, I immediately realised it to be a place ripe for artistic exploration. The late-classical, red-brick building casts an imposing presence on the park. Its cavernous interior, with its three generations of colossal metal boilers resembling permanent art installations, providing a unique gallery atmosphere.

A big old boiler. Photo: Vincenzo Marrese
A big old boiler. Photo: Vincenzo Marrese

It’s unsurprising then, that the incredible location was the core inspiration for the exhibition.

“The exhibition Preserve Memories – Provide Energy will invite the audience to engage in the idea that art can be the new form of energy that the Kesselhaus produces” explained the event’s main organiser, Vincenzo Marrese.

The Kesselhaus is exactly the sort of place Vincenzo came to Berlin for. Having studied art in Florence, he swapped the home of the Renaissance for a more “dynamic and international environment”, seeking more opportunities to pursue contemporary art.

Preserve Memories – Provide Energy

The exhibition is a collaboration between Berlin-based Vincenzo and three other, internationally-based artists: Nora Lube from Berlin (now based in Braunschweig), Tetiana Kornieieva from the Ukraine and Sophia Moffa from the UK. Each of them will be presenting their individual creations which have been inspired by the space itself.

In a video installation and performance entitled Invisible Memories, Tatiana will explore the theme of memory formation in relation to places and spaces, as well as the relationships between people and architecture. Through the video, which will be displayed on her stomach(!), she wants to recreate the process of forming the individual memories made throughout the history of the Kesselhaus.

Invisibile memories. Photo: Vincenzo Marrese

Nora will present a mixed-media installation dealing with the relationship between vulnerability and violence in patriarchal power structures, and a smartphone-snapped photograph series taken on a walk around an industrial harbour.

Umschlagplatz. Photo: Nora Lube

“The photographs are memories that transport a fantasy, trying to imagine where our technologies and society will drive the future. In that way, memories retreat to leave the field to reload artistic energy”, she explains.

Providing she’s allowed in the country, British artist Sophia will grapple with the themes of bringing nature into the museum, preserving the old, and the multiple facets of water via sound and visual installations. Drawing attention to the way boilers work, Pieces of Peace will explore how man has used this natural energy source to create an extra power supply.

Workshop taster - art, dance, movement. Photo: Sophia Moffa
Art, dance, movement. Photo: Sophia Moffa

Vincenzo’s work will take the form of multiple installations which look at various possibilities for social change, the gamification of reality and how a museum can preserve its memories and offer energy in the form of art to the local community. In an action entitled “Weg der Kohle” visitors will be invited into a new world, via a trap door on the floor of the boiler room, in which art is the future product of power plants.

Engaging the local community is also a central goal of the  event, and is something both the artists and the museum management, lead by Peter Ameis, feel strongly about.

Vincenzo Marrese – a man with an artistic plan. Photo: Nowsher Roman/http://memories-energy.vfmarrese.com

“Of course we want people from the art scene to come and see what we do,” Vincenzo told me, “but it is also very important for us that the people of the local community also come and be involved.”

Workshop taster - performative landscapes. Photo: Tetiana Kornieieva
Workshop taster – performative landscapes. Photo: Tetiana Kornieieva

On the 14th of July, Tatiana will give a workshop to willing members of the public on the theme of performative architecture. The workshop will take place in the grounds of the Museum, and participants will explore the space with only one sensory organ at a time, to create a new image of the cityscape and memories of the space.

For Vincenzo, engaging with the public is an important part of being an artist: “I believe that artists have a special role to play in society. On the one hand, it is, of course, a profession to be an artist, but, on the other, it is important to offer a different point of view. To find the timeless connection between time and art in a deep sense. To fill the gap between and find new relations.”

The exhibition opening (with performances) will take place between 6pm and midnight on the 10th of July. Regsiter for a free ticket here.

If you can’t make it to the main event, you can book a viewing from the 11th to the 14th here.

The workshop on the 14th will take place from 7 to 10pm and you can reserve your spot here.

Museum Kesselhaus Herzberge
Haus 29, Herzbergstraße 79
10365 Berlin


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