Mara Genschel

15 March – 30 April 2021
Muche House
// Residence by invitation //

Mara Genschel is a writer and performance artist. She studied at Hochschule für Musik in Detmold and Deutsche Literaturinstitut Leipzig. Her first collection of poetry was published in 2008. Since then she has been working on new independent publishing concepts and performances. She has been invited to numerous international places like Hong Kong, Bucharest, Iowa and Johannesburg. Latest books: Cute Gedanken (2017) and Gablenberger Tagblatt (2018). Besides she works on new audio formats, mostly related to experimental music, latest: „Salon Dilletantisme“ (SWR 2020) and „Das narzisstische Publikum“ (2021). She is based in Berlin.

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Mara Genschel, Bauhaus Residenz 2021, Haus Muche, 20.4.2021 / Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau, Foto: Yvonne Tenschert
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Mara Genschel, Bauhaus Residenz 2021, Haus Muche, 20.4.2021 / Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau, Foto: Yvonne Tenschert
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Mara Genschel, Bauhaus Residenz 2021, Haus Muche, 20.4.2021 / Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau, Foto: Yvonne Tenschert
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Mara Genschel, Bauhaus Residenz 2021, Haus Muche, 20.4.2021 / Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau, Foto: Yvonne Tenschert

Mara Genschel on the sources of inspiration for her work:

“I rarely look for inspiration. I am interested in problems and, in this respect, in ‘orders’. I place most of the orders with myself. In the case of the Bauhaus Residency (as I understand it), a mixed form: the framework conditions are clear, but it’s up to me to invent the work order.

I think the Masters’ Houses reflect this principle quite accurately. Working conditions must have been quite attractive at the time, a lure even for Paul Klee! At the same time, of course, they don’t guarantee anything and that’s what they radiate, almost in an arrogant way: ‘If you fail to get something done here, sorry to say, you’ve never got something done anywhere else.’ […]”

Mara Genschel on her stay in the Masters’ Houses:

“Today, the museum aspect dominates the residency programme. In the first few days, I thought more about the decisions of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation – how they have set up the residency programme, what their considerations might have been – than about the avant-garde of the 1920s. As you are at the mercy of these specifications, more than that, you are recognised in them, you relate to them, you fail (which, by the way, is a productive side effect of residency programmes).

The furniture is elegantly arranged, mostly by the windows. When you enter the room as a visitor (or look into the room through the window from outside), it looks convincing right away, like an easy sketch. But when you use the furniture yourself, the perspective is bare wall, or: Attention, face of a visitor from outside. As a body using the room, you break with the concept. Lively discussions are made impossible by the acoustics what is hardly striking due to the silence caused by the corona virus. From an acoustic point of view alone, it would take carpets, books, curtains, sofas to be able to have a conversation. But I also see it as a challenge – Georg Muche, who must have had a short but very cool stay, also had neither carpet nor sofa in the living room, it was almost as bare as it is today.

I’ve made notes like:

(17 March)
‘With my first coffee, I absolutely have to (well, what actually):
‘use’?
‘play’?
‘supply’ / ‘incorporate’?

Or:
‘carpet’?!
‘stage’?!
… the living room.

Quite quickly, however, such despondencies gave way to a more robust pragmatism. Now I would say that I ‘use’ the rooms, and as a writer I would say it works perfectly, I am productive here. Those many windows also give something back (the pine trees, lots of birds, one child waving every day) – the exciting interweaving of the transparency of a public building with privileged privacy.

But I have noticed something, namely that my person splits into different roles of this use. ‘Ms Genschel, would you please bring me the tea then.’ ‘No problem, I’ll put it in the studio in a moment, but first I have to fluff up your pillow.’ ‘You’re a gem!’

The urge to ‘satisfy’ the house merges with the slight tendency towards compulsive action and perfection which is, of course, the exact opposite of what Gropius said: ‘We are not there for the sake of the furniture, as it often seems today, but the other way round.’

Something like a sophisticated work simulation, is that what’s it about? It would suit me because I don’t believe in immaculate work anyway.

In my texts and plays there are always parts that reflect the work process, but in this case this part will be small. The situation is already so speculative: I’ve practically stopped reading the news, I move around in a glass-framed sketch on a white wall, and the deer are hopping in the background – who cares about my ‘working conditions’? However, I will behave according to the sketchiness of the ‘master house simulations’, first and foremost to the most obvious one: Gropius’ house itself. There are broken narratives. Possibly the police in Dessau will make an appearance, too."