Contemporary Interventions

In 2016, the University Museum for Islamic Art in Berlin launched the Contemporary Interventions in THE BUMILER COLLECTION exhibition series in collaboration with Taswir Projects, showcasing the Syrian artist Ali Kaaf. The underlying concept of the exhibition series is simple, yet requires a good deal of sensitivity and intuition in its realization: each respective artist stirs up the antique collection by exhibiting their works together with ours at Studio Bumiller in Berlin-Kreuzberg, thereby creating a fresh exchange and interrelation between both. Explored anew with each exhibition is the specific selection of ancient pieces from the more than 6,000 objects of the Bumiller Collection located in Bamberg, the way in which the artworks and objects are exhibited together, as well as the relationship between these two “worlds.” Ali Kaaf, for example, chose an associative approach to our pieces, while Nicky Brukheuysen, who was featured in the second edition of the Contemporary Interventions, chose a thematic approach.


The aim of the Contemporary Interventions is to liberate the exhibiting artists from commercial pressures too often prevalent in the gallery environment, so as to provide them with the greatest possible opportunity for development and expression. This creates a very intimate relationship between our institution and the artists: they are involved in the process from the very beginning, fully integrated in the decision-making, and we work together to build an exhibition with no predefined outcome. A special form of creativity is encouraged through this approach, namely one constituted out of the engagement with, and interplay between, the collection and the artist. Our objective is to break open the stereotypes, to blur the otherwise common boundaries and clear-cut distinctions of conventional exhibition layouts for antique versus contemporary art, commonplace structures for museums versus galleries, and academic versus non-academic approaches to art, thereby creating fluid transitions between these spheres. All of this happens with the intention of benefiting a new understanding of space and time, with the hope that the works and objects displayed will illuminate each other, consistently revealing new aspects of the pieces themselves and their counterparts.