bauhaus imaginista

bauhaus imaginista opens up a transnational perspective on the history of modernist art and design—a history marked by war and dictatorship, the Cold War, the non-aligned movement and independence movements that erupted across the developing world, and, finally, the mid-twentieth century’s unrestricted promise of modernization. In a series of site-specific exhibitions, events, and publications that took place between 2018 and 2020, bauhaus imaginista demonstrated to what extent and under which local conditions Bauhaus design debates and Bauhaus-derived pedagogical methods were taken up and further developed. The worldwide circulation of Bauhaus concepts is not understood here as a history of impact and influence, but, rather, as part of a network of international linkages and exchange relationships that were in effect prior to the advent of National Socialism and recommenced after the Second World War’s conclusion.

bauhaus imaginista is a multi-year research project that began development in 2016, in collaboration with international researchers, curators, film-makers, and visual artists from across the globe, including Algeria, Brazil, China, Germany, India, Japan, Morocco, Nigeria, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. When its curatorial approach began to be translated into practice in 2018, bauhaus imaginista was able to realize its international program in collaboration with many partner institutions, Le Cube—Independent Art Room in Rabat, the China Design Museum in Hangzhou, various partner institutions in New York, the National Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto, the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow, the SESC Pompéia in São Paulo, the University of Ife in Ile-Ife and the University of Lagos, the Kiran Nadar Museum in New Delhi, Zentrum Paul Klee in Berne, along with Goethe-Instituts in each of these locations. These events are documented under the link Events.

The project’s accompanying online journal has followed the course of the overall project, making available new insights into transcultural exchange in the twentieth century through the work of researchers and artists who draw upon international correspondence, encounters, resonances, and translations. Their contributions can be found in the online journal, as well as new research that has come together as a consequence of the numerous events—from Hangzhou to Berlin, from São Paulo to Berne—that have taken place throughout the project’s duration. In addition, academic specialists have been invited to publish articles examining the intertwining histories of Bauhaus modernism from other perspectives so as to expand the insights gained through the overall project.

The online journal is divided into four editions. It thus reiterates the chapter structure of the exhibitions and events from 2018 to 2020. As with the larger project, each journal chapter departs from a central Bauhaus object. What these four objects have in common is their propositional character: the edition Corresponding With has the 1919 Bauhaus Manifesto by Walter Gropius as its focal point; for the edition Learning From, it is Paul Klee’s drawing from 1927, Teppich (Carpet); the edition Moving Away departs from the 1926 collage, ein bauhaus-film (a Bauhaus-movie) by Marcel Breuer; while the last edition, Still Undead, refers to the Reflektorische Farblichtspiele (Reflecting color-light plays) created by Kurt Schwerdtfeger in 1922. This curatorial setting made it possible to examine the reception of the Bauhaus throughout the twentieth century, pursuing site and context-specific questions while also negotiating trans-historical themes and materials from a contemporary perspective.

The project was initiated in 2015 in partnership between the Bauhaus Kooperation Berlin Dessau Weimar, the Goethe-Institut and the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin. Curated by Marion von Osten and Grant Watson, bauhaus imaginista was one of the major projects celebrating the centenary of the Bauhaus in 2019. bauhaus imaginista was made possible by funds from the German Federal Government Commission for Culture and Media. The German Federal Cultural Foundation supported the exhibition in Berlin, while the Federal Foreign Office has supported projects staged abroad.