May 2011, arsenal cinema

bauhaus & film (3)


New Building – Suicidal Objectivity (April 6, with an introduction by Kathrin Peters) "Out of sheer protest against the Art Nouveau and timbered magnificence of his parent's mansion, he furnished his spaces with an all but suicidal objectivity…" Getrud Busse wrote of her husband, the documentarist Wilfried Basse. The 1920s architecture that became known under the term of "New Building" shaped the debates on modern architecture for a long period of time. We reconstruct a historical film program of the same name that took place on January 31, 1932. In DIE NEUE WOHNUNG (CH 1930), Hans Richter literally disassembles the "front parlor" with the help of intertitles and short scenes staged with actors. He contrasts the useless porcelain figures on the Vertiko and other Art Nouveau decoration with modern, objectively sober and purposeful living-room and kitchen furnishing. Here, (with the help of stop and go motion recordings) everything seems to work on its own, the foldable pieces of furniture are moved out of the way as if by magic. Ella Bergman-Michel's WO WOHNEN ALTE LEUTE? (D 1931) is committed to an alternative housing project in Frankfurt/Main: a home for the elderly with functional, light-flooded architecture. The extensive use of glass allows the camera to capture deeply staggered vistas, while the pans, which always end in the sky, evoke the well-known triad: "Light – Air – Sun". The folding doors of the common rooms that can be pushed aside – shown in animated graphics – demonstrate the multi-functionality of the spaces to further the conviviality of the people living there. Wilfried Basse's ABBRUCH UND AUFBAU. EINE REPORTAGE VOM BAUPLATZ (D 1932) was created based on a two-year, long-term observation in the center of Berlin. Between Inselbrücke and Wallstrasse, the Arbeiterbank, a huge old building is torn down and s a modern complex of large buildings is built up again. Old and new working methods encounter each other: demolition is carried out with harnessed horses and jackhammers. Even the metro tubes traversing the port basin have to be excavated. The new buildings gradually rise.

Bauhaus and Politics – Context and Reform Movement (April 7)

The social ideas of the Bauhaus were drawn from the November Revolution in 1918. The Bauhaus and its convictions count as the only concrete materialization of the concepts of the "Arbeiterrat für Kunst", to which Walter Gropius and Bruno Taut belonged. The holistic concept of the "new human" was also echoed by reform-oriented political groups. DAS ZWEITE INTERNATIONALE SOZIALISTISCHE JUGENDTREFFEN IN WIEN 12. BIS 14. JULI 1929 (A 1929, sound version 1979), shot by the architect Alfred Loos along with Josef Ambor and Hans Glück, is a committed public relations film for Social Democracy depicting sports meetings, competitions, tent camps, and encounters. Ciphers of a departure to a new world come together here in the form of trained bodies, the unity of peoples, the multitude of flags, shared experiences, the fluid boundaries between elite and grass-roots, the belief in one’s own power, and the tangibility of the future. With rapidly changing and in part abstract forms, Walter Ruttmann's and Julius Pinschewer's animated film DER AUFSTIEG (D 1926) advertises for the Düsseldorf exhibition GESOLEI (Gesundheitspflege, Soziale Fürsorge, Leibesübungen), the themes of which are closely linked to the reform efforts of modern urbanism. In DIE STADT VON MORGEN – EIN FILM VOM STÄDTEBAU (D 1930), the architects Maximilian von Goldbeck and Erich Kotzer are the first to outline a functionally structured city and formulate basic principles of modern urban development. Using the model of a conceived city shown in animated and real shots, they show what our cities could be like if foresighted planning would ensure organic growth according to the ideal, functional city design. Jean-Marie Straub's and Danièle Huillet's EINLEITUNG ZU ARNOLD SCHÖNBERGS BEGLEITMUSIK ZU EINER LICHTSPIELSCENE (D 1972) revolves around a core that cannot be visualized offhand, namely, around the addendum "Drohende Gefahr, Angst, Katastrophe" brought up in Schönberg's score mentioned in the title. In order to grasp this experience inscribed in the music, a letter by Schönberg to Kandinsky is read, in which the composer rejects a call to the Bauhaus in Dessau due to increasing anti-Semitic tendencies in Germany. Walter Hege's DIE BAUTEN ADOLF HITLERS (D 1938) shows that during the Nazi period the Bauhaus was regarded as a dirty word and an unacceptable, "degenerate" form of art. Martin Engelhardt's BAUHAUS DESSAU 1926–1932 (DDR 1989) was produced at the very end of the GDR, whose official authorities had at times maintained a very ambivalent position toward the Bauhaus.

Ella Bergmann-Michel – Social Ethics and Radicality (April 8)

Ella Bergmann-Michel and her husband Robert Michel studied in Weimar in 1918 at the Großherzoglich-Sächsische Hochschule für bildende Kunst und Kunstgewerbe, the predecessor of the Bauhaus. When Robert was expelled from the school following a dispute with the professors, the couple from then on ("since the winter of the Revolution") worked as freelancers in Weimar. The Michels were pioneers of picture collage. Although there were numerous contacts to the newly founded Bauhaus, and Walter Gropius exhibited paintings by the Michels at Bauhaus receptions, they did not return to the academy. Yet the proximity of their works to the Bauhaus' concept of art cannot be denied. In "Die Wohnung", 1927, the architect Mart Stam embellished his residential buildings in the Stuttgart Weißenhofsiedlung with Ella's abstract pictures. The artist couple then moved to Frankfurt/Main in 1920, where Ella – called EBM in the style of New Objectivity – in addition to her painting, directed the film club "Bund Das Neue Frankfurt" and soon also created her own short films that she processed herself. The themes of her films became increasingly radical and can be read as an indicator of the political climate of her time. WO WOHNEN ALTE LEUTE? (D 1931) depicts a socially committed home for the elderly in a highly modern, light-flooded and functional architecture. Without mawkish compassion, ERWERBSLOSE KOCHEN FÜR ERWERBSLOSE (D 1932) gives an account of self-help activities of jobless persons. Showing solidarity, FLIEGENDE HÄNDLER (D 1932) accompanies jobless persons illegally helping themselves, a form of subversive resistance: As ambulant vendors, they sell windfall in the streets, constantly fleeing from the authorities. The camera then boards a merry-go-round: the horizon blurs, the familiar order dissolves, a premonition of the instability of the prevailing conditions arises. WAHLKAMPF 1932 (LETZTE WAHL) (D 1932) gives a sober account of the increasing aggressiveness, paralysis and polarization of public life in the final phase of the Weimar Republic. On election day, the streets are divided into political camps facing each other, those waving swastika flags and those waving red ones. During the Nazi period, the Michels were banned from their profession and went into "internal emigration" breeding fish. In MEIN HERZ SCHLÄGT BLAU (D 1989), Jutta Hercher and Maria Hemmleb portray the Bauhaus artist Ella Bergmann-Michel in an expertly and inspired manner, particularly highlighting the connection between her art and the political developments of the times. (Thomas Tode)

The series curated and complied by Thomas Tode was commissioned by the municipal cinema Kino mon ami Weimar and the Bauhaus University Weimar. It comprises a total of twelve programs and will be continued in June. Thanks to Edgar Hartung. From April 23 to 25, the "studientage bauhaus & film" will take place at Kino mon ami in Weimar. Information at