June 17 2017

"Modernism has gone beyond retro" – Flashback "Museum Of Modern"

„Modernity is not that shiny happy but has produced terrible fallouts“, Holm Friebe stated at the beginning of the conference morning session of day 2 at Digital Bauhaus Summit 2017. And the following impulse lecture – or with his words „happy little round-up of 300 years history of modernity and enlightenment“ – of author and historian Philipp Blom proved this statement. „Ideas don’t come from books but from real people and it’s meaningless to look at them divorced of technology“, Blom said, tracing correlations from the so called little climate change of the 17th century („nature is simply demanding to be more noticed“) to the need for social participation and the critical mass resulting of the question „But aren’t we all equal?“ at the beginning of the 18th century. „Enlightenment as the beginning of modernity is very great at preventing a sense of space but very bad of giving us a place, a sense of belonging.“ He finished answering the question whether there is such a thing as an antimodern enlightenment: „There’s definitely such a thing as unenlightened modernity. We like keeping consuming stuff that we don’t really need. We like dependencies we live in. The doors are open and we are refusing to leave.“

While Blom linked full democracies as very recent things to the force of fuels and economic growth but also stated the process of recognition that we are not able to guarantee the preconditions Raul Zelik was going to present post-capitalist perspectives. But did we already past peak-capitaism? „I don’t want to reproduce the conviction of the lefters to blame capitalism for everything“, the political scientist and writer said, „we are testifying the strange phenomenon of capitalism entering its decline.“ But if so what is to be done? „We should be sceptical towards technological solutions for social problems but we need the idea that there can be social progress on the long run“, Zelik explained our long term mission ending with another, maybe the main question: “Is there enough time left?“

Maik Novotny delivered a lean ride through the history and state of the art in modern architecture. “I am an optimist” he pretty much opened. Even if we heard about the end of history quite a few times during this Summit, Nowotny emphasized that even Frankenstein was created by Mary Shelley in the famous year without summer 1818 – following the eruption of a volcano in Indonesia.

Cutting to the chase: Modern architecture once was built upon a notion that architects sort of imposed their ideas of design, architecture and living on people. There were a few incidents that pinpoint the “death of modern architecture” as Nowotny put it. In 1968 a social housing complex in the UK, Ronan Point, partly erupted. It was built after a Danish pattern but poor housing and construction regulations in Britain caused it to partly erupt. This eerily echoes the recent disaster in London.

Today, when it really comes to starting processes and working towards accomodation for people who could not afford proper housing, there is a certain trend to be discovered: Incremental housing projects such as Alejandro Aravenas projects in Chile display in how far architecture can adapt to people’s needs. The have a certain layout and people could add whatever they need when it comes to furniture and so forth. Nowotny concludes: “Modernism has gone beyond retro.”

Totally off schedule but just right in time, Eckhart Nickel took the stage to give a short introduction into the cultural history of the Rimowa bag. Filippo Tommaso Marinetti already stated in his Futurist Manifesto that his time was one of speed. And he came to aknowledge the beauty of speed as in various design forms it manifested itself. Speed is what connects Marinetti to the urban nomads, the travelers of time as they cross land by trains, skies by airplanes. “Aus dem Koffer leben” is a sign of our times today, at least, for the ever mobile creative class. As Nickel put it with the words of Novalis, it is a deeply romantic desire to have a philosophical home. Well, if home means being on the road constantly, then, the Rimowa is your home on the ride. And he did not shy away from comparing something Bauhaus to traveling as he compared travelers using the four wheeler to "a bad cover version, vaguely reminiscent of the 'Bauhaus Tänze', Oscar Schlemmer's triadic ballet."

To conclude “Museum of Modern” we were introduced to old roots of the Bauhaus in Hagen and the story of a philanthropist by Eva Rapp-Frick. Karl Ernst Osthaus (1874-1921) inherited quite a lot of Goldmark, 3 Million, to be exact. He wanted to contribute to a good cause and asked Munic based architect Richard Riemerschmid to plan a settlement for workers in Hagen. The settlement was never finished in its entirety. Yet, one house is open for the public and the association HagenImpulsGo! Wants to take it to the future. They need your support! By the way, Henry van de Velde built a house in Hagen, the “Hohenhof” in 1908 which became a cultural center. So, there you have it, closing circles back to Weimar, where the architect designed the main buildings of Bauhaus-University Weimar.

Wrapping up this first part of the afternoon talks and building a bridge to the "Peak Individualism"-slot, Georg Maier, Thuringian State Secretary of Economy, Science and the Digital Society, adressed the audience with some welcoming words. He assessed in how far "geniuses" were supposedly able to connect the natural and the manly world. The "genius" as a highly individual being served as a stepping stone towards Maiers rhetorical connection towards challenges that digitisation brings about for the individual. "Today, business models work on gaining data from individuals. So, the individualization in this model is brough upon everyone from the outside, it's passive." Maier pointed out in how far it is also a task for governments to protect each one's possibilities of defining one's individuality. Here, in the cradle of the first Bauhaus, in Weimar, he concluded, he'd be happy to meet us all again. 

And off we go to Peak Individualism and its connection of how we perceive “modern” today!

Philipp Blom / Photo: Thomas Müller
Philipp Blom / Photo: Thomas Müller
Raul Zelik / Photo: Thomas Müller
Raul Zelik / Photo: Thomas Müller
Maik Novotny / Photo: Thomas Müller
Maik Novotny / Photo: Thomas Müller
Eckhart Nickel / Photo: Thomas Müller
Eckhart Nickel / Photo: Thomas Müller
Eva Rapp-Frick / Photo: Thomas Müller
Eva Rapp-Frick / Photo: Thomas Müller
Georg Maier / Photo: Thomas Müller
Georg Maier / Photo: Thomas Müller

Under the patronage of

Deutsche UNESCO Kommission

Supported by

Thüringen

Organized by

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Bauwelt
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