Bauhaus and Functionalism
The festival examines the societal and political conditions that gave rise to Bauhaus and Functionalism, as part of the modernist movement, and explores the political and social dimensions of emancipation – of states, citizens and individuals – that went hand in hand with the development of modern society. From a contemporary perspective, this is a development that is by no means complete, especially when reflecting on current political and cultural developments in Europe and, in particular, the current state of women's rights. To this end, the lesser known female protagonists of modernism and Bauhaus will make a significant contribution to the present-day gender debate.
Emancipation and the Modern Woman
The introduction of women's voting rights marked a significant step towards gender equality: in Germany this took place in 1918 and in Czechoslovakia in 1919/20. Another crucial precondition for the rise of "Emancipation and the Modern Woman" was women’s access to higher education. This was increasingly promoted in general education and the arts, for instance at the Bauhaus, where women were allowed to enter full-time studies. But there were still fundamental obstacles to further professional development of female students, influenced by social and gender determinants. This is evident in the inadequate and unequal representation of women in media and historiography.
Constitution and Modern States
The societal developments taking place in Central Europe a century ago, explored through the theme of "Constitution and Modern States", were fundamental to the ideas of modern construction and Baukultur. They were behind the modern society’s embrace of modern architecture, Functionalism and Bauhaus. Particularly in the former Czechoslovakia, modern architecture gained great social importance, spurred by the positive legacy of the First Czechoslovak Republic. This is in contrast to Germany, where the 100-year anniversary of the Weimar Republic – the first modern, democratic state on German soil – is shrouded in the veil of a ‘failed state’ and the emergence of the Third Reich.
Education and Interpretation
In the theme of Education and Interpretation, the festival links the contextualization of societal developments and Baukultur to discussions about materiality, media and meaning, as well as the methods and strategies of access. Following the approach of bauhaus reuse, contemporary interpretation and the conscious handling of modern heritage and elements or – depending on the perspective – their remnants [left-overs] stand in focus: outside a mere stylistic reference or ‘musealisation’ of icons like Bauhaus, or, what is also existing in the opposite, a public rejection to Modernism and its heritage; instead aiming on current and changing challenges and developments.
The theme of Modern Reuse and DIY will offer haptic and conceptual points of access flowing from the extraordinary locations and built media involved in the festival: bauhaus reuse, PLATO Ostrava and the installation bauhausTWINS by zukunftsgeraeusche, which was built with reused façade elements from the Bauhaus in Dessau and serve as a stage for various discursive formats and events.
Special focus on Central Europe
The five themes of re:bauhaus offer an innovative and alternative approach to celebrating 100 years of Bauhaus by exploring the context of Central Europe and the associated societal and political developments of the times – something of a blind spot on the current cultural map. The festival highlights the historical aspects of the key societal and political trends and explores them in relation to contemporary social, urban, architectural and Baukultur issues.
In addition, the dedicated focus on Central Europe aims to overcome the former East-West divide that should have dissipated in the three decades following the end of the Cold War. In reality, Germany – especially its western parts – still associates with Western Europe, even though it is located well within the Central European region. A dialogue involving participants from Berlin, Prague, Ostrava and other Central European cities offers plentiful opportunities for access, reflection and exchange, and a chance to help redraw the outdated East-West geography. Against the backdrop of the 2019 European elections, and the upcoming 30-year anniversary of the ‘fall of the Iron Curtain’, the three sites represent a fitting constellation for exploring the foundations of the modern states established at the same time as Bauhaus.
This notion will be represented symbolically by the relocation of the architectural installation bauhausTWINS to PLATO Ostrava. Like bauhaus reuse in Berlin, the bauhausTWINS installation consists of elements recovered from the studio house façade of the Bauhaus in Dessau during its extensive post-war renovation in 1976. The installation was previewed in Potsdam for the Convention of Baukultur 2018 organised by the German Federal Foundation of Baukultur. By providing access to a tangible example of modernism and Bauhaus heritage, the installation serves as a clear link between the physical and conceptual locations of the re:bauhaus festival.