The “Bauhaus Imaginista” exhibition series begins its world tour. It seeks to review the broad impact of the design school from its beginnings to the present by working in cooperation with many international partners.

SESC Pompéia in São Paulo, Brasil / Photo: Marco Antonio
SESC Pompéia in São Paulo, Brasil / Photo: Marco Antonio

Moscow, Tokyo and New Delhi are taking part, as well as Lagos, São Paulo, New York and Berlin. On 13 November 2017 it becomes clear: “Bauhaus Imaginista” is a global player. Claudia Perren, Director of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation and this year’s Chair of the Bauhaus Kooperation, Johannes Ebert, Secretary General of the Goethe-Institut, and Bernd Scherer, Intendant of the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, all spoke at the opening of the press conference at the Goethe-Institut in Berlin.

There was not much time for introductory words, however, because the programme of the exhibition project is extensive. The curators Marion von Osten (Berlin) and Grant Watson (London) took turns presenting the individual exhibition sections of the programme and, in so doing, also sent the attending journalists on a mental journey around the world.


In each of the four sections, which consist of different formats such as exhibitions, workshops, conferences and panel discussions, “Bauhaus Imaginista” take a specific Bauhaus object as its starting point: the Bauhaus Manifesto of 1919, written by Walter Gropius, an advertisement by Marcel Breuer, a drawing by  Paul Klee and a reflective “light game” by Kurt Schwerdtfeger. The unique feature: special key themes, rather than the venue locations, define the individual sections.

In the section “Correspondence” (Kyoto, Tokyo, New Delhi) an exhibition at the National Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto (4 August to 8 October 2018) deals with the educational approaches taken by the Bauhaus, and two contemporaneous avant-garde art schools in Japan and India provide a broader context, as parallel stories of modern educational reforms of the early 20th century. The section “Designing Life” (Hangzhou, Moscow, Lagos) focuses on the design-theoretical debates at the Bauhaus and their translation into other cultural and political contexts, such as the former Soviet Union and China. This exhibition section will be produced together with the newly opened China Design Museum in Hangzhou (8 April to 8 July 2018) and the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow (11 September to 30 November 2018). The third section, “Learning From” (São Paulo, New York, Rabat), shows in an exhibition at the SESC Pompéia in Brazil (10 October 2018 to 10 January 2019) how the Bauhaus was interested in pre-modern artisanal methods of production, and contrasts this to modern movements in North Africa, Brazil and North America that also pursued a synthesis of craft, art and design.

Study of simultaneous contrast by Takehiko Mizutani (Josef Albers’ class), 1927, opaque colour on cardboard / Photo: Markus Hawlik, Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin
Study of simultaneous contrast by Takehiko Mizutani (Josef Albers’ class), 1927, opaque colour on cardboard / Photo: Markus Hawlik, Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin

At journey's end, the many Bauhaus narratives lead back to Germany, where they can be seen in a closing exhibition at the last Bauhaus location in Berlin. This large overview exhibition, to be shown at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, will include a fourth section, entitled “Undead”. It explores the experimental work done with light and sound, film, and photography at the Bauhaus, as well as its influence on the visualisation of data, experimental forms of contemporary art, and pop culture. The presentation concluded with Friederike Tappe-Hornborstel, Head of Communication for the German Federal Cultural Foundation, referring once again to the historical legacy of the Bauhaus and its contemporary relevance.

And what does the title of this major travelling exhibition allude to? According to the organisers, “Bauhaus Imaginista” is not only a reference to the Bauhaus, but also corresponds to the show’s potential for attracting truly international attention. And that should be certain once the globetrotter has ended its journey.

“Bauhaus Imaginista” is a collaboration between the Bauhaus Kooperation Berlin Dessau Weimar, the Goethe-Institut and the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW). The research project with venues in various locations takes place in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus.

 

[CG 2017; Translations: DK]