Exhibition shows snapshots of modernist architecture
One hundred years after its foundation, bauhaus imaginista, a major international project that marks the centenary of the Bauhaus by focusing on its global reception, offers a new interpretation of the Bauhaus as a globally connected institution and as a proposition of modernity, of the kind that drew its impulse from encounters and exchanges with various cultures.
Consisting of an exhibition in four chapters along with a series of publications, panel discussions and symposiums, bauhaus imaginista is represented by the chapter “Moving Away” at SALT Beyoğlu in Istanbul. “Moving Away,” which details the diverse approaches to Bauhaus in separate sociopolitical contexts, is accompanied by the “Collected Research” on the project’s international explorations and the “Pedagogical Adaptations in Turkey,” an archival display and a workshop program by SALT for further introduction of local cases to this final edition.
The Bauhaus was founded in Weimar in 1919 after the end of the First World War as a school for a new kind of design. By transforming education and combining art, handicraft, design and architecture, the founders thought existing social conditions could also be reformed.
The new creative practices, ways of working and ways of living developed at the Bauhaus were all aimed at liberating people from Germany’s nationalistic and authoritarian past.
The Bauhaus was a cosmopolitan project from its inception, forging connections across the globe. The school’s pedagogy and practice were international and heterogeneous, and at different times adopted principles from the movements Arts and Crafts and Neues Bauen (New Building) in addition to socialism, communism, spiritualism, and Soviet Constructivism.
In 1933, the school was closed by the national socialists and forcibly dispersed, causing many of its members to flee Germany, and as a consequence the Bauhaus emanated to nations beyond Europe. These histories suggest how Bauhaus ideas were refracted, adapted or rejected through contact with local conditions, Cold War struggles, non-aligned politics and dictatorship, as well as processes of decolonization and development projects.
The four individual chapters of bauhuas imaginista —Corresponding With, Learning From, Moving Away, and Still Undead— are based on four Bauhaus objects: The 1919 Bauhaus Manifesto, a 1926 collage by Marcel Breuer, a 1927 drawing by Paul Klee, and Kurt Schwerdtfeger’s Reflektorische Farblichtspiele (Reflecting Color-Light Play) (1922).
These focal objects were employed as starting points to cultivate the thematic and conceptual contents, which examine the varied genealogies of the Bauhaus reception around the world.
The chapters have been materialized in collaboration with a transnational group of artists, researchers, and institutions, through a number of exhibitions, conferences, and workshops that took place in Hangzhou, Kyoto, Tokyo, São Paulo, Lagos, New Delhi, Rabat, New York, Moscow, Berlin, Nottingham and Bern over the past three years.
“Moving Away” surveys how Bauhaus debates on design unfolded during the first half of the 20th century and how they subsequently changed in relation to the disparate geopolitical conditions.
Featuring the work of Bauhaus migrants in the Soviet Union, India, China, Taiwan, North Korea and Nigeria, the chapter points out the constant pressure faced by the designers to adapt their concepts and modes of working according to social, cultural, and political exigencies.
The “Collected Research” installation of curatorial studies, texts and images, associated with the chapters and the international programs of bauhaus imaginista, provides a space to engage with the many layers of the project.
Designed by the artist Luca Frei as part sculpture and part exhibition architecture, the structure is centered around a computer terminal where users can browse the bauhaus imaginista online journal.
The Istanbul presentation of “Moving Away” includes an investigation on the pioneering approaches and trends in basic art and design education in Turkey.
Foundational courses taught at Istanbul Technical University, Marmara University Fine Arts Faculty, Middle East Technical University and Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University are be scrutinized through archival materials and public workshops in the “Pedagogical Adaptations in Turkey” space on the second floor of SALT Beyoğlu.
Curated by Marion von Osten and Grant Watson, “Moving Away” can be seen through April 3.