●Edition 4: Still Undead
Sep. 21 2019–Jan. 12 2020

bauhaus imaginista | Still Undead: Popular Culture in Britain Beyond the Bauhaus

  • Nottingham Contemporary
  • Weekday Cross
  • Nottingham NG1 2GB
  • United Kingdom

Coinciding with the centenary of the Bauhaus, the exhibition Still Undead traces how the pioneering art and design school’s ideas and teaching lived on in Britain, via popular culture and art school experimentation. Spanning the 1920s to the 90s, and including works by some 50 artists, designers and musicians, Still Undead narrates the eclectic and fragmented ways that the Bauhaus’s legacy has been transmitted and transformed.

Kurt Schwerdtfeger, Reflektorische Farblichtspiele, 1966, 16mm film transfer to digital, sound, 17 minutes 24 seconds. Courtesy of Microscope Gallery and Kurt Schwerdtfeger Estate.

Lux Feininger, Dancer Karla Berggruen on a table in the Bauhaus canteen wearing part of the white tulle-covered hoop costume from the Triadic Ballet by Oskar Schlemmer, 1927. Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau.

The exhibition’s point of departure is Reflektorische Farblichtspiele (reflective coloured light games) by Kurt Schwerdtfeger, an apparatus he designed as a student for the Bauhaus Lantern Festival in 1922. Experiments of this kind were key elements of Bauhaus party culture, which blended music, costume and performance. They fed into the stage workshop, and would go on to find new contexts in commercial design and popular culture. Still Undead opens by locating this “light games” alongside a selection of sound and light pieces from the 1920s and early 30s.

When the National Socialists came to power and the Bauhaus closed in 1933, a number of its masters and students – including Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack, Walter Gropius, Otti Berger, Margaret Leischner and Edith Tudor-Hart – came to Britain. A lack of stable employment pushed many of these emigrés towards a variety of projects, making everything from sci-fi special effects and documentary photography to shop-window displays.

The exhibition goes on to trace how Bauhaus pedagogy, including the preliminary course, reshaped British art schools in the 1950s and 60s, exploring influential courses developed by artists including Rita Donagh, Richard Hamilton and Victor Pasmore. Around this time, a young generation – among them, Mary Quant, Terence Conran and Vidal Sassoon – began to reimagine the aims of the Bauhaus for an era of consumerism and commercial design.

Still Undead concludes, through Bauhaus student performance work, photography and film, with an immersion into the subcultures of the 1970s and 80s – from bands and club nights to DIY publishing. This includes the outrageous costumes and performances of Leigh Bowery, borrowing from Oskar Schlemmer’s Triadic Ballet, as well as art-school bands such as Soft Cell. This section of the exhibition is a collage of performance, music and graphic design, which invokes the spirit of Bauhaus parties and theatre. The exhibition title, Still Undead, is borrowed from a 1982 song by the British goth-rock band Bauhaus, suggesting that these spirits linger on.

The exhibition features the work of some 50 artists, designers and musicians, including Gertrud Arndt, Roy Ascott, Bauhaus (the band), Robyn Beeche, Otti Berger, Leigh Bowery, Robert Brownjohn, Laurie-Rae Chamberlain, Edmund Collein, Susan Collier and Sarah Campbell, Terence Conran, Rita Donagh, T. Lux Feininger, Ueli Frey, Maxwell Fry, Walter Gropius, René Halkett and David Jay, Richard Hamilton, Florence Henri, George Hinchcliffe and Ian Wood, Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack, Tom Hudson, Kraftwerk, Kurt Kranz, Margaret Leischner, Liliane Lijn, John Maybury, Lucia Moholy, László Moholy-Nagy, Victor Pasmore, Mary Quant, Vidal Sassoon, Peter Saville, Oskar Schlemmer, Kurt Schwerdtfeger, Soft Cell, Frank Tovey (Fad Gadget), Edith Tudor-Hart, Stephen Willats.

The exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary is curated by Marion von Osten, Grant Watson and Sam Thorne. Research curators: Olivia Aherne, Gavin Butt, Cédric Fauq, Christian Hiller and Mariana Meneses.

László Moholy-Nagy, The New Architecture and the London Zoo, 1937. Courtesy: Light Cone & Moholy-Nagy Foundation.

Susan Collier and Sarah Campbell, Bauhaus, 1972. Courtesy of the artists and Liberty Fabrics. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

●Event documentation
●Slide Show
bauhaus imaginista | Still Undead: Popular Culture in Britain Beyond the Bauhaus

Photo documentation of the exhibition Popular Culture in Britain Beyond the Bauhaus at Nottingham Contemporary.

Photos: Stuart Whipps. → more

●Conference Program and Video Documentation
Architectures of Education — 8/9 November 2019

Architectures of Education is a two-day programme with presentations, screenings, keynotes and workshops seeking to reflect on cultures and architectures of education today, and speculate about what futures may lay on the horizons of knowledge production. → more

●Video Documentation
Keynote: Ines Weizman — Dust & Data: Traces of the Bauhaus across 100 Years

In this keynote talk, architect and theorist Ines Weizman reflects on the history of the Bauhaus and the complex trajectories of Bauhaus migration — its architects, artists, documents, objects, and of course its ideas — have splintered across a fragmented world. → more

Location of the Exhibition in Nottingham

The exhibition Still Undead: Pop Culture in Britain Beyond the Bauhaus takes place at Nottingham Contemporary from 21 September 2019 until 5 January 2020.

  → more

●Related Articles
Penguin’s-Eye View — Lázló Moholy-Nagy meets Berthold Lubetkin at the London Zoo

One day in September 1936, Ernestine Fantl, a curator at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and Lázló Moholy-Nagy stood looking at the new Penguin Pond in London Zoo. Fantl was on a research trip for an upcoming exhibition, Modern Architecture in England, that would heavily feature the striking structures Soviet émigré architect Berthold Lubetkin’s firm Tecton had built at the London and Whipsnade Zoos, among them the Penguin Pond. Realizing “that no still photograph could do justice to the pool or its denizens,” on the spot Fantl commissioned Moholy to produce a film about Tecton’s animal enclosures. → more

Microfilm and Memex — Lucia Moholy, Photography and the Information Revolution

Considering the role of photography, and particularly, of the Bauhaus photographer Lucia Moholy, in developing and envisaging information systems during and after World War II this paper focuses on the connection between her pre-war practices and her work as the director of the ASLIB Microfilming Service in wartime London, using it to think through the direction of developments in media and information technology by drawing a comparison with Vannevar Bush’s famous essay “As We May Think” (1945). → more

The Bauhaus is dead. — Undead.Undead.Undead.

The influential post-punk band, Bauhaus, helped invent the musical genre and sartorial style of goth-rock. Formed in 1979, their nineminute-long debut single Bela Lugosi’s Dead includes a refrain that has also inspired the title for this exhibition chapter. → more

Bedsit Art in the Leeds Experiment

In the 1970s the city of Leeds was noted as home of “the most influential art school in Europe since the Bauhaus,” and a thriving punk and post-punk music scene. Gavin Butt explores a small art school milieu in which avant-garde experiments in photography, performance, film and sound art gave shape to non-conformist presentations of the body and of sexual and gendered identity. → more

The Bauhaus Journey in Britain

The Bauhaus’s teaching approach emphasised the idea of working as a community of creatives and producers rather than merely focusing on the traditional pupil-teacher relationship. In this essay the focus will be on the Bauhaus’s impetus to bring art and design into everyday life highlighting in Great Britain’s visual culture in the 1930s and between 1960s and 70s and how it influenced youth and popular culture during the swinging sixties in London. → more