Diversity and contemplation make for a decentralised modernism

Programme News | February 2019

Courtesy of Microscope Gallery and Kurt Schwerdtfeger Estate 2016
Reflecting Color-Light-Play, 1922 , light performance, apparatus reconstructed 2016

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In her introductory remarks on the opening festival of 100 years Bauhaus on 16th January 2019, Annemarie Jaeggi, the director of the Berlin Bauhaus Archiv, evoked the initial principles that the three directors of the Bauhaus Cooperation already noted in the logbook for the big celebration 2012: strict decentralisation, a participatory programme both throughout Germany and beyond Europe’s borders. Those responsible were already clear from that point that hearing diverse opinions and engaging in an active debate would be necessary, as: “The Bauhaus has been and is a reason for debate – not only on the artist’s position in the world.”

True to this motto the chair of the jointly organised celebration was handed over from Berlin to Thuringia at the beginning of the year, coming full circle, as everything started in Weimar: not only the concerted activities of the Bauhaus Association 2019 – founded in 2016 – but from here the school we are celebrating embarked on its triumph around the world, though not always proceeding in a straight line. “The Weimar Bauhaus started a renewal of architecture and design in 1919 which was enthusiastically utopian and n particularly in the early years was open to many different, often opposing influences,” says Minister-President Bodo Ramelow, who has been chairing the Bauhaus Association since January 2019. “With their designs the Bauhauslers reflected social, cultural and economic problems of their day and offered orientation that was polarising at the time, but are accepted worldwide today.”

The “Weimar State Bauhaus“ – as the later „School of design“ was referred to at the time focused on building as a collaborative effort of all crafts. It was in Weimar that it made its first visible mark, the so-called “Haus am Horn”. Designed not by an architect, but by the painter Georg Muche, it quickly became a symbol and example of a collectively renewed living culture and lifestyle. After a thorough renovation, the city of Weimar ceremoniously handed it over to the Klassik Stiftung Weimar at the beginning of January 2019. On the handing over of the keys Hellmut Seemann, president of the Klassik Stiftung thanked the city for this step: “The Haus Am Horn” is invaluable for conveying the Weimar Bauhaus period. The city gave us a great present right at the beginning of the Bauhaus year.” From 15th to 20th January a short special exhibit on the recent restoration measures took place in the rooms of the house. On 18th May 2019, the birthday of Walter Gropius, a permanent exhibition on the history of the origins and the design approach of this unique show house will be opening here.

The project bauhaus imaginista that will be on view at the Berlin Haus der Kulturen der Welt as of March, spans from the birthplace of the Bauhaus, via the whole world, to the place of its voluntary dissolution. This project – a collaboration between the Bauhaus Kooperation Berlin Dessau Weimar, the Goethe-Institut and the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) – tells the transnational story of the Bauhaus in four chapters. Never before have the global effects and the local references been shown to such an extent. Following exhibitions, symposia and workshops in Hangzhou, Kyoto and Tokyo, Saõ Paulo, Lagos, Delhi, New York as well as Moscow in 2018, the HKW will show all four chapters of the exhibition and research project. With historic objects and newly commissioned works by Kader Attia, Luca Frei, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, The Otolith Group, Alice Creischer, Doreen Mende, Paulo Tavares and Zvi Efrat an overall picture of bauhaus imaginista unfolds on 2000m² at the HKW.

The team of bauhaus imaginista is working at full speed on two conferences, which consolidate the different contexts of the comprehensive exhibition. On 16th March 2019 the political significance of the Bauhaus and its socio-political mandate will be discussed. A two day conference in May will look at the importance of the Bauhaus for the development of experimental educational practices and its international resonance from a historical as well as contemporary perspective. The fourth and last exhibition chapter Still Undead that will be shown in Berlin for the first time, looks at the immaterial, performative and temporary works of the Bauhaus. The “Reflektorische Farblichtspiel” (“Reflecting Colour-Light-Play”) – a projection apparatus by the Bauhaus student Kurt Schwerdtfeger – that premiered in Kandinsky’s flat in 1922 is central to this chapter. The version that will be shown at the HKW – a newly built apparatus (projector) and a visual score – is based on a performance from 1968 as well as further available original documents. Paula Schwerdtfeger, Kurt Schwerdtfeger’s great-granddaughter will attend the presentation at the HKW on 14th March 2019.

    [NF 2019]

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