Triennial of Modernism 2013 – The destruction of diversity

In July 1933 the Bauhaus closed for good. What began in a hopeful manner in Weimar and developed to its full potential in Dessau was carried to the grave in Berlin. Not only the world famous School of Design caved to the pressure brought to bear by the National Socialists; so, too, did the avant-garde idea and a social stance that, vilified as left-wing “cultural Bolshevism”, was to have no place in the Nazi state. Many intellectual pioneers and proponents of modernism emigrated; just a few came to terms with the new power brokers. What remained was an intellectual vacuum before the legacies of a built, but aborted, modernism. The once eulogised diversity was destroyed.

Now, eighty years later, under precisely this motto, the Bauhausarchiv Berlin, Bauhaus Dessau Foundation, Klassik Stiftung Weimar and the respective cities back an initiative that explores the world famous legacy of modernist architecture. On three weekends in autumn – between 27 September and 13 October – the UNESCO World Heritage sites in the participating cities will be open to the public. In the festival “Triennial of Modernism” in 2016, the focus will be on the Bauhaus building in Dessau, commemorating its ninetieth anniversary. In 2019, based in Weimar, the Bauhaus centenary year will be celebrated.

W O R K S H O P  O F  M O D E R N I S M:  D E S S A U

When the Bauhaus arrived in Dessau in 1925, the ambition of giving shape to society was realised: The Bauhaus not only made its mark on the architecture of the city, but also contributed to a number of projects, from city information office  to library, from theatre to swimming pool.

The Bauhaus City of Dessau became a unique WORKSHOP OF MODERNISM in the twentieth century. It is the only place where the Bauhaus architecture of Walter Gropius and Hannes Meyer may be experienced in all its diversity, where the revolution in aviation led by Hugo Junkers can be appreciated and where one can trace the beginnings of the great composer Kurt Weill. Under the Nazis, this auspicious WORKSHOP OF MODERNISM became a purveyor of war’s machinery of destruction, its conceptual diversity destroyed.

Eighty years after the closure of the Bauhaus, the “Triennial of Modernism” focuses on modern architecture in Berlin, Dessau and Weimar, but also shows how the ideas of modernism were perverted. The three-part festival was held on three weekends in autumn in the named cities; Dessau was the last stop, from 11 to 13 October 2013.

All the Bauhaus buildings and other modern sites were open to visitors with guided tours focusing on the impact of Junkers and the dark sides of the city’s history, such as the production of Zyklon B, but also exhibitions, readings, lectures and workshop. One highlight was the presence of top US architect Daniel Liebeskind, who spoke on how the Bauhaus made an impact on the world despite having been banned by the National Socialists.

The  “Triennial of Modernism” explores the destruction and loss of creativity and intellectual freedom that came about in the process, pays homage to personal destinies and highlights the current relevance of many of the questions raised.

 [r1]Is it an office? (German: “Stadtinformation”)