The new pocket book ‘bauhaus news’ brings together statements from international Bauhaus experts, exhibitions organisers, architects and educators for the Bauhaus Centenary: That the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus is an event of special national and international significance appears to be understood by all – but why? Where does the school’s importance for the 21st century lie for contemporary thinkers, designers and researchers? And what does this mean when dealing with the World Heritage?

Photo: Roksana Jankowski, 2016.
Photo: Roksana Jankowski, 2016.

In December 2014 some 70 artists, designers, architects, curators, museologists and educators from all over the world addressed these questions. Invited by the Bauhaus Cooperation Berlin Dessau Weimar and the German Federal Cultural Foundation, they explored ideas, questions and formats for the orientation of the Bauhaus Centenary 2019 in a work symposium hosted at the Bauhaus Dessau. Under the title ‘100 years of innovation from the Bauhaus? Talks and Walks on Updating a Modern Heritage’ the focus was on a critical and productive debate about the Bauhaus. The publication ‘bauhaus news. Contemporary Remarks’ published in late 2015 clearly summarizes the debate held in Dessau. The result is a compact and inspiring book in a handy format – reading matter for the centenary in pocket book form.

Brought together under the three ideas ‘The Bauhaus has no place’, ‘The Bauhaus is daily life and exhibit in one’ and ‘The Bauhaus needs no update’, the focus is on questions such as: What does modernism with its visionary wealth still have to say to us today? How can design make a difference? How can the Bauhaus be exhibited? Should it be regarded more as a school, or as a museum, as a moving ship, or as a static building? What does this mean for the Bauhaus Museums of the future?

Photo: Roksana Jankowski, 2016.
Photo: Roksana Jankowski, 2016.

The answers, approaches and deductions are as complex as the Bauhaus itself: While Éva Forgács, Professor of Art History at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, writes that the Bauhaus has no clearly identifiable location due to its international and interdisciplinary activity, the Bauhaus Weimar expert Michael Siebenbrodt sees the school clearly located in an historic and regional context. On the question of updating, Laura Weißmüller, feature writer for the Süddeutsche Zeitung, establishes that the contemporary relevance of the Bauhaus relies above all on the belief in a better world, while Lilet Breddel, editor-in-chief of the Dutch architecture journal ‘Archis’ believes that to apply the basic principles of the Bauhaus to the present day remains a worthwhile endeavour.

From the positions on the question of how and whether the Bauhaus can exhibit, it follows that the three new Bauhaus Museums in Weimar, Dessau and Berlin will be innovative centres for the transfer of knowledge. Barbara Welzel, an education expert at TU Dortmund, sees the Bauhaus Museums as laboratories of democratic public life and as places that provide information about things. Angelika Nollert, director of ‘Die Neue Sammlung – The International Design Museum’ in Munich, regards them a ‘realms of possibility’ and Kai-Uwe Hemken of Kunsthochschule Kassel calls for a discursive museum, in order to advance the Bauhaus’s maxim of ‘production, rather than recreation’.

László Moholy-Nagy, Hannes Meyer, Walter Gropius and other Bauhauslers also have their say in historic texts and highlight the fact that the Bauhaus has always been a venue for discourse. In addition, diverse contributions concerning the international importance of the Bauhaus address the so far little-researched global influence and manifestations of the Bauhaus’s ideas in East Asia, Latin America, India, Israel and Africa.

Text: Gesine Bahr.