Life Forms

Life Forms

Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW)

Josef Albers, Black Mountain College Student in Costume for Valentine’s Day Ball, 1940. Kodachrome slide by Josef Albers. © The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018.

March 2, 2019
Life Forms 
Art, discourse, performance 
April 25–27, 2019, 3–11pm
Conference: political imaginista: March 16, 2–9:30pm
Conference: A New School: May 11–12
Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW)
John-Foster-Dulles-Allee 10
10557 Berlin

T +49 30 397870
F +49 30 3948679
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bauhaus imaginista narrates the international histories of the Bauhaus. Since its foundation in 1919, the school was in contact with other avant-garde movements worldwide. bauhaus imaginista proposes a rereading of the Bauhaus as a cosmopolitan project with global resonances: a major exhibition and two conferences trace transnational relations, correspondences, and narratives of migration, going beyond the years the Bauhaus was active as a school (until 1933). For the first time, the project tracks the translation of Bauhaus concepts into different political and geographical contexts.

The title bauhaus imaginista hints at the imaginative possibilities which were opened up by the Bauhaus, and the multilayered interpretations that the term still denotes today. Between archival findings and contemporary contributions, the project translates the historical perspective into a set of contemporary questions: How, in the spirit of the Bauhaus, might culture be reimagined as a social project today? What kinds of institutions would such a project need? And in what ways does the Bauhaus still stimulate visionary practices and discourses today?

The exhibition at HKW places the Bauhaus in context with like-minded schools in other parts of the world. It reflects the artistic exploration of craft techniques, materials, and practices; examines how Bauhaus concepts on socially integrated design were transformed, adjusted, and challenged; and uncovers how the innovative use of media at the Bauhaus influences art and pop culture even today.

bauhaus imaginista is divided into four chapters. Each chapter departs from a focal object selected from Bauhaus masters and students. What these four objects have in common is their propositional character and their material ephemerality. The curatorial approach is to decipher these objects in relation to their own historical specificity, but also for what they suggest going forward as a genealogy of forms, practices and concepts.

Chapter 1 “Corresponding With” departs from the Bauhaus Manifesto (Walter Gropius) to explore early twentieth century art and design pedagogy at the Bauhaus and connected schools. Chapter 2 “Learning From” takes Paul Klee’s drawing of a North African carpet to reflect on the modernist appropriation of art from outside the European mainstream. Chapter 3 “Moving Away” observes the evolution of the chair in Marcel Breuer’s collage to trace how Bauhaus design is transformed by societal and geopolitical change. Chapter 4 “Still Undead” uncovers a history of light and sound experiments starting with Kurt Schwerdtfeger’s Reflektorische Farbichtspiele. It questions how, in a neoliberal economy, the creative energy exemplified by art schools, and its excess beyond the curriculum, can be oriented towards political ends, including antifascism and the queering of norms, and not be subsumed by commodity culture.

Since March 2018, exhibitions, symposia, and workshops in Rabat, Hangzhou, New York, Kyoto, and Tokyo, Moscow, São Paulo, Lagos, and Delhi have been realized in collaboration with the Goethe-Institutes and local partners. Now bauhaus imaginista culminates with an expanded overview, including all four chapters at HKW.

With works by Anni Albers, Gertrud Arndt, Kader Attia, Lena Bergner, Nandalal Bose, Ahmed Cherkaoui, Alice Creischer, Zvi Efrat, Luca Frei, Walter Gropius, Doreen Mende, Hannes Meyer, Takehiko Mizutani, László Moholy-Nagy, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Hélio Oiticica, The Otolith Group, Lygia Pape, Paulo Tavares, Iwao Yamawaki and many more.

Two accompanying conferences in March and May 2019 reflect the critical potential of the Bauhaus today:

March 16, 2019 political imaginista discusses strategies of resistance against the new right, questions on internationalism and cultural appropriation, as well as ways of politicizing art, technology, and popular culture. A New School, the second conference illuminates from May 11-12, 2019 the impact of the Bauhaus on the development of experimental pedagogy from a transhistorical and transnational perspective.

With Kader Attia, Suchitra Balasubrahmanyan, Rustom Bharucha, John Blakiger, Beatriz Colomina, Alice Creischer, Iris Dressler, Kodwo Eshun, Thomas Flierl, Christian Hiller, Nataša Ilić, Susanne Leeb, Sebastian de Line, Doreen Mende, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, David Riff, Gloria Sutton, Mariko Takagi, and Paulo Tavares.

bauhaus imaginista is curated by Marion von Osten and Grant Watson in collaboration with a team of international researchers and artists.

A mediation program made up of guided tours, a diyaudio guide and workshops with artists, the school project Bauhaus Reloaded. Students Design the Future as well as accessible tours for deaf, visually impaired, and blind visitors will accompany the exhibition.

A catalog will be available in English and German, published by Thames & Hudson / Scheidegger & Spiess, to coincide with the exhibition opening.

Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern will showcase bauhaus imaginista from September 20 to January 12, 2020. At Nottingham Contemporary bauhaus imaginista: still undead will be on view from September 21, 2019 to January 5, 2020.
Further information on the project series: 

bauhaus imaginista is a collaboration between the Bauhaus Cooperation Berlin Dessau Weimar, the Goethe-Institut and Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW). The research project with its different exhibition stations is taking place for the centenary of the founding of the Bauhaus. It will be enhanced with international perspectives of the Goethe-Institutes and tied together as part of 100 Years of Now in Berlin at Haus der Kulturen der Welt. bauhaus imaginista is made possible by funds from the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media. The German Federal Cultural Foundation is supporting the exhibition in Berlin and the German Foreign Office the stations abroad. Media partners are 3sat and Deutschlandfunk Kultur. bauhaus imaginista is realized in collaboration with the China Design Museum / China Academy of Art (Hangzhou) (Hangzhou), the Independent Administrative Institution of National Museum of Art / The National Museum of Modern Art Kyoto, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art (Moscow) and SESC São Paulo. Partners abroad are the Goethe-Instituts in China, New Delhi, Lagos, Moscow, New York, Rabat, São Paulo, and Tokyo as well as Le Cube – independent art room (Rabat) and other institutions. Haus der Kulturen der Welt is supported by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media as well as by the Federal Foreign Office.

Press contact:
Anne Maier
Haus der Kulturen der Welt
T +49 (0)30 39787 153/196
anne.maier [​at​]

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March 2, 2019

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