Versuchsstätte Bauhaus

On 1 November 1976, the city of Dessau purchased 148 artworks by Bauhaus artists for a total of 145,000 Deutschmarks via the Galerie am Sachsenplatz in Leipzig. Shortly afterwards, from 4 December 1976, the objects were exhibited in the reopened Bauhaus Building. Here, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Bauhaus, the Wissenschaftlich-Kulturelles Zentrum (Scientific Cultural Centre) of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) commenced its work. From this point onwards, it was committed to the legacy of the Bauhaus.

The exhibition at the Bauhaus Museum Dessau is entitled “Versuchsstätte Bauhaus. The Collection”. It tells the story of the famous school in Dessau in three major thematic sections: Bauhaus as Experiment, Factory as Horizon, and School as Testing Ground. The Bauhaus is portrayed as a vibrant place for teaching and learning, artistic experiment, and working on industrial prototypes.

The collection of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation comprises around 50,000 catalogued exhibits, and is the second largest collection on the subject of the Bauhaus worldwide, after the Bauhaus Archive in Berlin. On 1 November 1976, the city of Dessau purchased 148 artworks by Bauhaus artists for a total of 145,000 Deutschmarks via the Galerie am Sachsenplatz in Leipzig. Shortly afterwards, from 4 December 1976, the objects were exhibited in the reopened Bauhaus Building. Here, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Bauhaus, the Wissenschaftlich-Kulturelles Zentrum (Scientific Cultural Centre) of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) commenced its work. From this point onwards, it was committed to the legacy of the Bauhaus.

A special feature of the collection of the Bauhaus Dessau is that it contains a large number of works by students who later became influential players in the fields of architecture, design, and art, including many women. The exhibition “Versuchsstätte Bauhaus”, does not focus on the well-known Bauhaus design objects and their designers, but on the school and its students – the everyday life of learning and teaching, encompassing free design and industrial prototype, artistic experimentation and economic pressure: a training facility and a space for self-determination and equality. The various sections of the exhibition concentrate on teaching concepts and educational work, as well as on the Bauhaus as a multi-faceted testing ground, a collaboration partner for industry, and a place of lively exchange.

The exhibition embeds the design ideas of the Bauhaus, which are so familiar to us today, within the context of their own era and its social situation. It does not fail to mention the crises and constraints under which the school struggled for its existence. In a climate of political change and cultural uncertainty, the Bauhaus community, with its worldwide network, questioned the conditions of teaching, living together, and even gender relations that had prevailed at that time. During this process, the school encountered not only support, but also criticism, even in Dessau. “Versuchsstätte Bauhaus” lays out the school’s conflict-ridden struggle to achieve social recognition for art and design.

The Berlin design office Chezweitz developed a special scenography for the exhibition, curated by Regina Bittner, Dorothée Brill, and Wolfgang Thöner. It translates the complexity of the Bauhaus school into a spatial experience.

Intermezzi

The “Intermezzi” are smaller, temporary exhibitions within the collection presentation. They expand the collection and give visitors the opportunity to become active themselves.

The Art of the Palliative Turn.
Art for the End of Our Way of Life

30 March 2023 – 12 May 2024

“”Business as usual” no longer offers a solution! Accept the end of the world as we know it and plan for it! The art of the palliative turn affirms life and equally understands dying as a normal and natural course of events!”

In 2020, the artist Olav Westphalen (born 1963) initiated the Association for the Palliative Turn, a loosely connected group of international artists. Since then, its members have focused on the artistic potentials of dealing with death, palliation, and leave-taking in a range of media and event formats that make use of humour, generosity, delight, and reflection. In the practice of life, the human body is inevitably awarded the role of a medium.

The various limitations that bodies impose on people are as much a part of this as all singular sensory perceptions and experiences.

Nomadische Moschee
Azra Akšamija

30 March 2023 – 28 January 2024

Using clothes that can be transformed into prayer mats, the project explores the notion of the mosque space, its formal boundaries and its relationship to the human body. Respecting religious rules, the Nomadic Mosque aims to redefine traditional forms and functions of mosques in a contemporary context. The project interprets the idea of the world as a mosque, as formulated by the Prophet Mohammed, as portable architecture.

The Nomadic Mosque can thus be seen as a mosque with minimal volume, whose design is orientated towards the individual needs and experiences of the faithful. However, it is also a device that can transform any secular space into a prayer room. It not only accommodates liturgical necessities, but also functions as a prosthetic device for the praying believer.

The learning body

30 March 2023 – 21 Jan 2024

Our bodies absorb and exude, are part of our “expression”, be it through physical manifestation, creative dance, exercise, or work. Which capacities to store knowledge does the human body have? What does it remember? Which cognitive processes are first stimulated by movement in space?

The physical body as a kind of learning tool straddling play, sport, and performance “on demand” forms the focal point of this experimental research and cooperation project. In collaboration with the Curatorial Workshop’s cultural outreach programme, Corina Forthuber and students from the Gestaltung: Technik.Textil course of study at the Mozarteum University Salzburg address the ideational history of the “learning body” and carry out experiments to explore the ability to remember, physical action, and the physical sensor system. Through the modification of bodies, they examine and shift automated behaviours and transform tried-and-tested relationships between the body and space.

In cooperation with the Mozarteum University Salzburg and the collective Stiftung FREIZEIT.

Contributors

Setting up the collection exhibition

Project management:
Regina Bittner, Katja Lehmann, Clarissa Seidel

Curators:
Regina Bittner, Dorothée Brill, Wolfgang Thöner

Research assistant:
Lutz Schöbe

Archivist:
Sylvia Ziegner

Registrar:
Christin Irrgang

Restorer:
Rüdiger Messerschmidt

Education:
Bauhaus Agents Dessau / Bauhaus Agents Dessau:
Tabea Kießling, Anne Schneider, Philine Sollmann,
Silke Wallstein

Exhibition design and scenography:
chezweitz GmbH, museale und urbane szenografie:
Sonja Beeck, Detlef Weitz, Ines Linder with Alexander Butz,
Hans Hagemeister

Exhibition graphics:
chezweitz, Johannes Bögle with Christoph Bruns, Anja Rausch

Exhibition lighting:
chezweitz with Urs Schreiner (Envue Homburg Licht GmbH)

Media planning:
chezweitz with Rolf Schmidt

The Bauhaus Dessau Foundation is a non-profit foundation under public law. It is institutionally funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, the State of Saxony-Anhalt and the City of Dessau-Roßlau. The Bauhaus Museum Dessau and the exhibition Versuchsstätte Bauhaus. The collection is sponsored by: