The Culture-Shelter: In Search of Lost Utopia

From war to art: In the city of Cologne in bunker k101, French, Polish and German artists deal with major issues of the present. Artworks about climate change, war, defence and human powerlessness are reflected in the massive bunker walls. Their change over the decades also symbolizes the turn of 2022, the war in Europe and its consequences.

Europe as experience

In their artistic cooperation and especially in personal exchange, the artists of the cross-border exhibition project amplitude develop tangible utopias. They discuss, live and work in a European way. In doing so, they experience the surprisingly harmonious presences of their artworks with the oppressive architecture of the bunker and at the same time the disturbing knowledge of the historical entanglements.


Physically, amplitude describes the largest swing of an oscillation or pendulum from the middle position. The artists chose the term amplitude as the title of their joint European exhibition project. They want the oscillations of diversity, development and optimism to transport the viewer to a world of beauty, creativity, stability and avant-garde in equal measure. Fraternity among people is what we need most in these troubled times. (La fraternité entre les hommes est ce que nous avons le plus besoin en ces temps perturbés.) – Victor Sasportas, Salon d’Automne. As part of the French-Polish-German cooperation, the works will also be shown in Paris and Opole.

Changing shapes and changing times

As early as 1979, long before the end of the Cold War became apparent, Daniel Spoerri realized the exhibition Le musée sentimentale de Cologne in Cologne’s high bunker at Körnerstrasse 101. In 2007, the bunker was decommissioned as a shelter for the public. The originally public shelters are today predominantly in private property as well as in the property of municipalities (…) Due to the war in the Ukraine the federation decided to suspend the further reversal of public shelters for the time being and to examine the past concept, writes by the way the Federal Office for population protection and disaster assistance today on its homepage.

Weimar Triangle

The amplitude exhibition is also political. It explicitly refers to the Weimar Triangle, which was founded in Weimar in 1991 by the then foreign ministers of Germany, France and Poland, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, Roland Dumas and Krzysztof Skubiszewski. They emphasized that Germans, French and Poles share responsibility for Europe. From the outset, the cooperation was intended to bring the other new democracies in Central and Eastern Europe closer to the European Community. The Weimar Triangle was long underestimated. But since the start of the war in Ukraine, we see Poland taking on a new role in Europe. Apparently, Poland understands Eastern Europe and Russia better than we do.

In art and in the exhibition amplitude human beings are in the center. Their communication, forgetting and remembering, chaos, creativity and their vibrations are always complex, sometimes extreme. Art asks more questions than it answers. Thus, the exhibition venue Bunker K101 is no coincidence, but part of the concept. In its windowless rooms, blindness, delusion, flight, threat, aberration and vulnerability of man are illuminated sensitively, critically, compassionatly and full of hope. No, painting is not there to decorate the apartments. It is a weapon to attack and defend against the enemy. – Pablo Picasso

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