The Bauhaus was founded in 1919, after the First World War, as a manifestation of an ambition shared by artists, designers, architects and intellectuals throughout Europe, Asia, Latin America and the United States—their desire: to reinvent society. The radical premise of the Bauhaus was to understand design as a social project, and to undertake a reform of art and design education as a step towards this new society.
How can we understand its mission from today’s vantage point? In the course of the twentieth century, the Bauhaus movement radiated out to many nations and cultures—how can we reflect on these diverse legacies of the movement today, especially in the light of changing world geopolitics? How can we, in the spirit of the Bauhaus, reimagine culture as a social project—and what kinds of institutions would such a project need and generate?
bauhaus imaginista presumes modernism to be an inherently cosmopolitan project, something that emerged through transcultural exchange. It explores correspondences between various reform movements worldwide that believed in art as an agent of social change and traces how each of them redefined design and arts education through the eclectic study of sources, from the avant-garde to the pre-modern. Thus, bauhaus imaginista invites reflections on urgent questions for cultural production today: How can we imagine the necessary shift from “thinking globally” to being relevant for different cultural contexts? What is gained by thinking and acting across the divide between art and design? How can we make these insights work for art and design institutions today? Or, do we need to imagine new institutional infrastructures?
In 2018, bauhaus imaginista explores and discusses these questions with partners in eight countries. In 2019, these debates will be continued at Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) in Berlin. Marion von Osten and Grant Watson, curators and creative directors of bauhaus imaginista, have developed the project with the help of an international team of researchers, artists and designers, as well as with institutional partners in Morocco, China, the United States, Japan, Russia, Brazil, Nigeria, and India. Online, bauhaus-imaginista.org will provide information and updates about the project’s events and exhibitions in the following years and will regularly publish new material on research processes and results.