In memory of Marion von Osten

Marion von Osten in conversation with Demas Nwoko in November 2018 in Lagos. / Foto: Christian Hiller

The news of the death of Marion von Osten has shocked us deeply. For many years she was an important and irreplaceable partner of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation: in publications, workshops, conferences, exhibition projects and as a member of the scientific advisory board – and especially in the multi-year international exhibition project of the Bauhaus Cooperation Weimar Dessau Berlin together with the Goethe-Institut and the HKW “Bauhaus Imaginista”.

Like no other, Marion von Osten stood for the conviction that modernity can only be told in its complicated transcultural connections if it wants to gain relevance for the present. As curator of the above project, she put into practice for many years with great empathy, infectious humour and intellectual acuity that this can only be achieved through dialogue between continents, people and institutions. She could arouse enthusiasm around the globe for the Bauhaus as a cultural resource by giving room to many-voiced and controversial readings. She was concerned with more than just conveying a “cultural heritage” – the subtitle of one of her publications “Colonial Modernism: Aesthetics of the Past: Rebellions for the Future” sums it up in a nutshell. That cultural production must be measured by the extent to which it advances social projects is an attitude that Marion von Osten always demonstrated in and with her work. This also included a critical examination of her own institutional frameworks.

Anyone who had the good fortune to work with Marion will remember her always productive critical impulses, which have always led to cleverer texts, concepts and exhibitions. But he or she will also remember the generosity, the warmth and the pleasure of thinking and acting together, which Marion von Osten was able to instigate like no other person.

We still had so many plans together! We will miss her.

Regina Bittner
Director a. i. on behalf of all employees of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation