in 2012, after exhibiting for six years at a space on berlin’s strausberger platz, we began looking for a new home for our art collection. we wanted interesting architecture, preferably in one of berlin’s classic commercial courtyards. in a rundown industrial area of lichtenberg, on the east side of berlin, we found a large commercial yard with a fascinating history. the former FAHRBEREITSCHAFT (motor pool) of the central committee of the socialist unity party (the ruling party of the former german democratic republic) was 190,000 square feet in size and boasted thirteen buildings in a moderately deteriorated state, partially abandoned and littered with wrecked cars. it was actually much too big for us.
yet its architecture and history held a special charm and felt right. deflecting much advice against it, we purchased FAHRBEREITSCHAFT with the intent to house and exhibit our collection as well as to preserve the grounds and buildings. it was vital to bring to a halt the deterioration playing out over decades and to improve the general conditions. this applied to the windows, roofs, heating, sanitary facilities, and entrance doors. our aim was not to erect another east german museum in lichtenberg, but to visibly preserve the history, while bringing the site into the present at the same time. the idea was to only intervene where absolutely necessary, and to do so in a contemporary manner. this entailed reconsidering, with every renovation measure, what was worth preserving, what not. asking how all of the sanitary installations should be renovated, and what was to be done concerning the windows. exploring how compatible security doors are with historical buildings. we had nothing to go on. decisions were changed over and over. this is still apparent today in house 12: we originally meant to sand the stair railing and give it a fresh coat of paint, but the layers of paint exposed in the process made the history of FAHRBEREITSCHAFT visible in a wonderful way, so we stopped work right in the midst of things.
when we arrived in lichtenberg, mainly car-related businesses were found at herzbergstraße 40–43, with a few artists’ studios in between. our initial idea for FAHRBEREITSCHAFT was to create a location purely for art, but we quickly decided to retain the existing mixture of business and art and to only cautiously engage in development measures.
we are delighted that many of the tenants from that time are still with us today on site. only few have left, and many interesting new tenants have arrived.
the combination of productive industry and creativity has provided a fascinating environment for our collection. more than twenty exhibitions – presented in lichtenberg over a period from 2013 to 2018 – were held on site: in the former teilelager (parts warehouse), the kantine (canteen), einsatzleitung (operations management building), pförtnerhaus (gatehouse), various garages, and even the wine and the heating cellars. a very special relationship between the flair of the spaces and our conceptual art evolved, reflecting a unique symbiosis not really suited to an old motor pool.
for the artists who came to us in the course of the years, this relationship held particular appeal, especially because we tried to obtain service providers for artists and other creative individuals as tenants. artists and businesspeople alike quickly became comfortable with top-level art exhibitions taking place on site. for them, it was also interesting to become acquainted with a completely new world through the exhibitions. and for the artists who have their studios at FAHRBEREITSCHAFT, it was important to meet internationally active curators, museum directors, and gallerists on their premises.
since 2013, FAHRBEREITSCHAFT has thus become a very special place, synonymous with a deliberate approach to history, and with free spaces promoting creativity and enabling the coexistence of art and business. FAHRBEREITSCHAFT represents not only what made berlin so interesting in the time after the fall of the berlin wall. it is also a blueprint for how berlin might develop beyond mere property speculation and predatory capitalism.
on april 26, 2018, the building authority of berlin-lichtenberg forbade us, under threat of a fine of 500,000 euros, to engage in exhibition activities, citing urban planning reasons – and asserting that productive industries must be protected against culture.
barbara and axel haubrok
Einsatzleitung Michael Riedel, Dennis Loesch sk n e st sse (2000)
Michael Riedel, Dennis Loesch
sk n e st sse, 2000
Compound, Andreas Slominski untitled (tor) (1988)
untitled (tor), 1988
New block and gas station
and gas station
Containers and new block
and new block
Bilderrahmen Neumann, New block
LCL Lackiercentrum Lichtenberg Haus 4
LCL Lackiercentrum Lichtenberg Haus 4
Stephen Prina, untitled, exquisite corpse: the complete paintings of manet, 222 of 556, dames aux éventails (nina de callias) (women with fans) 1874, jeuu de paume, louvre, paris (2011) and push comes to love, untitled (1999-2017)
untitled, exquisite corpse: the complete paintings of manet, 222 of 556, dames aux éventails (nina de callias) (women with fans) 1874, jeuu de paume, louvre, paris 2011 and push comes to love, untitled, 1999-2017