“When something interesting happens it’s a breath of fresh air.” -Mario Basner
“Kismet,” a word we borrowed in the 1800’s from the Turkish meaning fate, is the first word that comes to my mind to describe the entire experience of Mario Basner’s World Heritage Collection. In 3 years, Mario miraculously curated a portal in time accessing 119 years ago. His collection features a sanatorium built 30 miles southwest of Berlin in 1898. Imparting a fateful story destined to change our lives today.
“There’s a story to be told.” Mario reveals,
“This is an exhibition that takes people on a journey [where] they get to have an experience and a dialogue. Really a kind of travel, not to just travel in time, but to an alternate state of mind.”
Undeniably, his interpretation does exactly that and its premise is woven throughout every image. The magnitude of the beauty captured—from the vast windows, cathedral‐like ceilings, and vibrant wall coloring to the exquisite detailing of the etched glass—compels one to overlook the dismal, decaying building erected to cure the “white plague.” (A term also used for tuberculosis: the cause of more deaths in industrialized countries than any other disease in the 19th and early 20th centuries.) Alternatively, his images reflect its splendor and tells a story of compassion and the human experience.
“It’s really a personal experience. That’s the whole process. I wanted to share the experience. I wanted to take you there. I wanted to open a window and take you into these rooms.”
During the Sanatoria movement, to control the contagion of the disease, many patients were moved to quiet and isolated environments. He explains, “this is a time where people’s motivation came from a different place. It’s a different place and I think it’s very important to show what happens when things are done for the right reasons.”
Surrounded by the forest, this 200‐acre self- contained village of 60 buildings had 1200 beds and in the first 25 years they treated over 110,000 people. Mario’s work reveals an idea of compassion from the onset of construction of this hidden infirmary.
Remarkably, the doctors and nurses lived amongst the patients; there wasn’t a wing designated for them, which emphasizes the idea of community.
“It’s the story of Humanitarian Care… of Value… Compassion. Integrity. Courage.” Images of the once‐largest hospital in the world, constructed to create a space for healing, manifests an underlining spiritual presence. A powerful message of a loving community resonates in the story of humanitarian care demonstrating the compassionate nurses, the integrity of the doctors, and the courage of the patients to sacrifice their lives in isolation for a serendipitous journey. The sanatorium later became a rehabilitation center until 1994. In 2017, the “World Heritage Collection” has broadened the reach of the community and brought it across the world, sharing the story with even more people and touching their lives.
“When you try to do something great, you can never do it alone —you always need the help of others.” -Mario Basner
He summarizes that his historical documentary “takes [you on] a journey. It’s emotional.” Each photograph is captivating and evokes feelings. “Choices” is just one of the many images within this series intended to incite self‐discovery. Mario discusses, “[it] challenges our decision‐making process. Why we choose one path over another. And, you’re confronted with a choice. So, you start asking yourself why.”
As a Vegas‐local, Mario decided there was no better place to exhibit his work than here in the great city of Las Vegas. His photographs bring an element of culture that serves as an oasis in our desert.
“That’s one of the great things about this city: it’s an open book. This is new for Vegas. I don’t believe anything like this exists anywhere in Vegas. When people come here, they stay awhile and treat it like going to a museum and that’s exactly what it should be. They have an emotional experience and they leave inspired.
Basically, they get in touch with their values, and things that are quite profound and make us who we are. And that’s where all of this came from. That is why I did this. I had this kind of experience. I rediscovered really what was important to me. This was really a life‐changing experience for me, this project. And that’s why it’s here. I hope it’s a valuable addition to the art landscape of Vegas—I believe it to be that—and I welcome people to come.”
Undoubtedly, I am honored to be able to say that I interviewed Mario Basner. His remarkable genius has touched my life in a tremendous way. I am thankful for the day he found that Internet article which impressed him to travel across the world to capture the work that has made him one of my now three favorite artists.
To learn more about Mario Basner, please visit www.mariobasner.com. The Mario Basner World Heritage Collection now exhibiting at Tivoli Village located at 400 South Rampart
Blvd #150, Las Vegas, NV 89145.
Photo credit: Mario Basner Photography
Contact K. Alex Shaw at
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