Panel chair: Ines Weizman
(Director of the Bauhaus-Institute
for History and Theory
of Architecture and Planning)
This panel will attempt to re-think Bauhaus history in relation to the way space and time were transformed and re-imagined in the aftermath of WWI. In Germany particularly, the shuttering of the old political order gave rise to radical changes in science, industry, technology, and consumer patterns, as well as to a fundamental break away from traditional art forms, which also shifted artists’ and architects’ conceptions of space and time. At the same time, the emerging mass media of photography, radio, and film were becoming increasingly important instruments of artistic expression and entertainment, and also of propaganda and ideological appropriation. The panel will argue that a new, ever more complex, fragmented, elastic, and multivalent concept of space and time arose, which enabled the reinvention of education and production in architecture and the applied arts. Both challenging and inhabiting these shifting spatio-temporal coordinates, the Bauhaus likewise wanted to give form to a society that would be radically transformed through the new objects, practices, and forms of living it proposed. This panel will engage not so much with the history of the Bauhaus, but rather with the historical matrix against which it unfolded. Using the 100th anniversary as a reference point, it will offer a historical, political, scientific, technological, and media-historical panorama of the year 1919. Together, invited speakers will construct a cross-section of world history in the year of the Bauhaus’s founding.
In 1919 Germany was characterised by a torn and increasingly uncertain political landscape. Left and right, conservatives and liberals, reformers and modernists, labourers and capitalists were in radical confrontation as the old order seemed to have vanished. Added to this was the still-fresh trauma of the war, and the alternative horizon exemplified by the recently established Russian Soviet Republic. These domestic political circumstances, in combination with a newly globalised set of political relations, directly influenced the constitution and orientation of the Bauhaus as an institution, an experiment, a mode of production, and even – controversially – as a style.
The aim of this panel is to reconstruct the simultaneity of seemingly unrelated local and global events, objects, and biographies, in order to weave together a history of the Bauhaus against the backdrop of different political, epistemological, scientific, and cultural milieux, thereby creating new links between global history and the history of the school. The analysis of contemporary artefacts (such as documents, records, photographs, drawings, and buildings) and the cultural/socio-political interpretation of these documents should serve to augment, reconstruct, and illuminate the complex spatio-temporal processes that were at play.
The cultural history of 1919, which this panel will reconstruct in a collective and interdisciplinary way, is intended to create a cultural diagnosis of the immediate ideological and historical environment of the “Bauhaus revolution”, while also counteracting the often overly selective and parochial historiographies of the Bauhaus. When considering the history of the reception and migration of Bauhaus, the historical global network of international and interdisciplinary relationships must be considered in order to recognise the movement’s ideas and protagonists, as well as its historical decline, within the centennial framework.
Ines Weizman is Director of the Bauhaus-Institute for History and Theory of Architecture and Planning at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, together with Max Welch Guerra. In 2015 she founded the Centre for Documentary Architecture (CDA), which she has directed ever since. She trained as an architect at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar and the École d’Architecture de Belleville in Paris, the Sorbonne, the University of Cambridge, and the Architectural Association School of Architecture, where she completed her PhD thesis in History and Theory. She taught at the Architectural Association, Goldsmiths College London, the Berlage Institute of Architecture in Rotterdam, and the CASS School of Art and Architecture, London Metropolitan University. Since 2013 she has taught at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar. In 2014, her edited book Architecture and the Paradox of Dissidence was published by Routledge. The book “Before and After: Documenting the Architecture of Disaster”, co-written with Eyal Weizman, was published in the same year by Strelka Press. In 2015 she edited with Jorge Otero-Pailos the issue “Preservation and Copyright” for the journal Future Anterior by University of Minnesota Press. Her articles have appeared in numerous books, magazines, and journals, including AA Files, ADD BEYOND, AD Magazine, JAE, Future Anterior, Harvard Design Magazine, Perspecta, Volume, The Routledge Companion to Photography and Visual Culture, and The Sage Handbook of Architectural Theory. The installation “‘Repeat Yourself’: Loos, Law and the Culture of the Copy” was shown at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2012, and in 2013 as solo-shows in the Architecture Centre Vienna and the Buell Architecture Gallery at Columbia University, New York. Earlier research and exhibition projects include “Celltexts: Books and Other Works Produced in Prison” (together with Eyal Weizman), first exhibited in Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turino (2008, 2009, 2014, 2015). In 2016 she organized the XIII. International Bauhaus-Colloquium, under the topic “Dust and Data”. A publication of essays from this conference will be published by Spector Books in 2019.