Bauhaus Lab 2021
Vegetation under power

International Postgraduate Research Program
13 Sept to 11 Dec 2021

In the collection of the Bitterfeld District Museum there is a herbarium of leaves from 1930. The object bespeaks the effects of environmental pollution in the region during the early 20th century: within a few decades, this Central German region was transformed from a rural to an industrial area. Huge opencast mines, power plants, and industrial companies shaped the face of the landscape.

When contemporaries were awed in December 1926 by the impression of the Bauhaus Building, this almost floating cube illuminated by electric light, few considered the clouds of smoke and the defoliated trees that formed the underbelly of the electrification of the region and of the capital Berlin. The starting point of the Bauhaus Lab 2021 is this botanical collection from 1930. These silent witnesses to the exploitation of natural resources form the backdrop against which the programme participants investigate how modern Bauhaus comforts have been entangled in regional power supply networks and resource flows. Through archival research, on-site excursions, and field studies, the participants will explore these varied infrastructures of an anthropocentric environment.

The programme will culminate in an exhibition at the Bauhaus Building where these neglected foundations of this particular modernity are reassessed. What happens, for example, if lighting fixtures by Marianne Brandt, freed from their status as iconic artefacts of design history, are considered as part of an open assemblage of infrastructural and environmental entanglements? How do they relate to environmental damage, to former coal-mining landscapes and deindustrialized places? The Bauhaus Lab develops curatorial approaches that make these relational structures visible. In doing so, they create alternative narratives of Bauhaus modernism that reach into the present.

The exhibition will also be on display at the Bitterfeld District Museum from March 2 to July 24, 2022. 

About Bauhaus Lab

Bauhaus Lab is a three-month research programme for scholars and practitioners in the fields of architecture, design, and curating. Participation is free, and all participants will be provided with workspaces in the Bauhaus Building. Furthermore, participants receive a contribution toward their housing expenses, and a modest per diem. The programme includes field trips to various sites in the Anhalt region; the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation covers travel and accommodation expenses incurred during these excursions. Participants are expected to be present on site during the entire period of the programme, to contribute to the collective research, and to meet regularly with the programme organizers for follow-up and feedback. The programme is conducted in English.