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  • Dark Rooms Vertical: Boundary pushing art in an abandoned factory


Dark Rooms Vertical: Boundary pushing art in an abandoned factory

This January, Dark Rooms Vertical breathes new artistic life into an 100-year-old abandoned automobile factory.

Since 2016, curatorial couple Clara and Sven Sauer and their team have been transforming some of Berlin’s most interesting abandoned spaces into transient yet boundary-pushing art installations.

Their most recent iterations have taken place quite literally underground as the Himmel unter Berlin series, gutting spaces like a former wine cellar and a showroom for a turbine manufacturer and filling them with immersive multimedia artworks. Light, sound, kinetics and sculpture all play a part, and each room features a different artist’s site-specific work.

Photo: Nonotak

Dark Rooms Vertical takes over a 100-year-old abandoned automobile factory

For their latest incarnation, however, instead of venturing below ground, the team is reaching high above it. In January, Dark Rooms Vertical takes over a yet-to-be-disclosed 100-year-old abandoned automobile factory. It’s a 12-storey climb to reach the exhibition space, but thankfully there is a bar at the halfway point so you can have a pitstop to refresh yourself. Those who are only familiar with Himmel unter Berlin might be surprised to learn that The Dark Rooms isn’t a new concept, but rather a callback to the very first exhibition series the team produced, which took place in the abandoned towers of Pankow’s former Willner Brewery back in 2016.

Those towers have since been developed into offices, and a similar redevelopment fate awaits the current location. That’s another interesting aspect of these exhibitions – they are a chance to see not only the artworks but also previously-unseen spaces in Berlin that may soon be developed beyond recognition.

Photo: Sizhu Li

As with Himmel unter Berlin, the exact location of Dark Rooms Vertical is kept secret and are only revealed to ticket holders 48 hours before their visit. This clandestine approach is very important to the organisers, as they want visitors to arrive free of any preconceptions and for the journey to feel like a little treasure hunt. As Clara Sauer puts it: “It’s nice to create a special place somewhere in Berlin for a short period of 2-3 weeks, which can only be experienced by a certain number of people at this time and then disappears again in this form. A phantom of Berlin’s art landscape.”

If you’re in the mood to be haunted by some experiential art, make sure to show up and go up.