Making Modern
Research, Intuition, and Cooperation

The Bauhaus story is an international one and since the days of its founding in Weimar, it has influenced pedagogical thought, stylistic trends, and modes of making—providing new models for multidisciplinary learning and interdisciplinary dialogue. As an inspiration, it has assertively ushered in practices aimed art modernizing through their practical efficiency and social concern.

In spring 2009, students visited Dessau and Berlin, as sites of the Bauhaus and the birth of modernism, and benefited from visits to the Weimar-wide anniversary exhibition “Das Bauhaus kommt nach Weimar”--an extraordinary, in-depth view of the birth of the Bauhaus and its roots in this city.

A special feature and excursion was the three-week program “Bauhaus Labs in Chicago” organized with partner the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. This intensive session sprang from the historic event of the transference of the Bauhaus legacy to Chicago via the visionary artist and educator László Moholy-Nagy. He established there “The New Bauhaus” in 1937 followed by Mies van der Rohe the next year. Classes were held in Mies’s masterpiece Crown Hall at the Illinois Institute of Technology and students, in five teams, each undertook major public projects and proposals. As part of an international rosters of professor from Sweden, Spain, Israel, several Chicago institutions, they were joined by students from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Betzalel Academy, Tel Aviv.

With modernism as the semester’s theme, skills focused upon those of artist’s project research and collaborative working processes. These were then applied in the development and implementation of projects on the German Bauhaus and Chicago Bauhaus Labs. This graduate seminar was taught jointly by guest professors Mary Jane Jacob and Mika Hannula, with the Australian artist Narelle Jubelin as an artist-in-residence and the Venetian collaborative artway of the thinking (Federica Thiene and Stefania Mantovani) leading the “Co/Operare” workshop.

Mary Jane Jacob

The participating artists are:
Loukas Bartatilas (Greece), Grace Bayer (Columbia/Germany), Penelope Davis (UK), Sanela Jahic (Slovenia), Martin Leibinger (Germany), Jennis Li cheng Tien (Taiwan/Singapore), Natalia Matta-Landero (Chile), Kimberly Brooke Meenan (USA/Great Britain), Sofia Ntona (Greece), Thalia Raftopoulou (Greece), Carly Schmitt (USA), Nina Schmidt (Germany), Eriphyli Veneri (Greece), Robert Verch (Germany).


Bauhaus Modulators
Thalia Raftopoulou & Grace Bayer
Location: Germany

The Bauhaus Modulators recorded "Master Sounds" on the 30th of April of 2009 at the first Bauhaus residences, the Master Houses, built by the professors Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Georg Muche, Lyonel Feininger, Oskar Schlemmer and László Moholy-Nagy, in Dessau.
A compilation of 15 tracks with sounds from the houses, such as sounds of door handles, light switches clicks, footsteps, atelier curtains, water running down the drain, a field recording above the ruins of Moholy – Nagy’s house and other domestic sounds, was released in an edition of 50, in the format of a compact disc. The package of the cd is designed in such a way that the compact disc can be pasted to the listeners’ walls, so that the house can become the case for the ‘Master Sounds’. The Bauhaus Modulators’ private space is the place where the visitor of an exhibition can lay down, relax and listen to the Sounds.

Sweet Times (video,50")
Eriphily Veneri
Location: Chicago


Landing in Chicago from Weimar is without doubt a shock. Plenty of time would be needed for a harmonious transition from a peaceful classical little town to a dense hustling-bustling metropolis. It is not only the type of information input that changes so suddenly, but also the influence that this new input has on one’s state of mind and psychology. How the new surrounding - the scales, the sizes, the colours, the shapes, the sounds- make one feel bigger, smaller, self-confident, insecure, dominant or submissive. This short video was shot in the Millenium Park and is a reflection on positioning myself towards my visual recordings during my stay in Chicago. For it, I needed lots of sugar cubes, a touristic T-shirt and a sunny day.

Modern Utopia (sound Installation and beehive)
Kimberly Meenan & Carly Schmitt
Location: Germany


A three channel audio installation in, and around, a bee-less beehive made to look like the typical GDR-style housing block. This work evokes the ideas of utopia, cooperation, mechanization and eventual abandonment that we now associated with the “modern era.”

Optical Color Mixer (cd player and 12 discs)
Jennis Li Cheng Tien
Location: Germany


Inspired by the Bauhaus optischer Farbmischer toy, I worked with the concept of mixing colors. By researching the color concepts of Johannes Itten, I decided to take the color mixture to the next level. By reworking the mechanical system of a portable CD player, I was able to create a new color mixing device. It works by pressing two buttons- one to start it, the other to regulate the spin. The patterns become different shapes and colors. Sometimes it is surprising how warm colors, for instance mix with cool colors to make warm colors. I created orange that has green and blue in it! Depending on the speed, the colors mix at different rates. The proportions of the colors are also important for judging the spinning results.

There are 12 exchangeable CDs with different patterns.

Bringing form and technology together, this is in the spirit of the New Bauhaus, and visiting the familiar in an unusual way. This is the simple message I would like to highlight with this project.

Sanela Jahic & Jennis Li Cheng Tien
Location: Germany


The Post-modern package conveys instances where serial production and product standardization bear the stamp of personalization and human imprint. The concept was written soon after one of us found a PostModern package left at her door amid our semester debates on modern, modernity and modernism in relation to Bauhaus. And after learning that a particular delivery service here in Germany distributes PostModern packages, we decided to use the primary purpose of this public service and send seven »post-modern packages« to various, randomly and not-so-randomly chosen people in Weimar.

Each package contained a manual, which asked its recipient whether he or she ever fixed an object in order to forever hold on to it since it meant more to them than just a thing. A commodity, a mere object becomes »objectless« at times of association with memories, feelings; the economic value of the product is ousted and superseded with a sentimental, emotional one. At other times, the object's design might fail and one attempts to fix it; and his or her personal, »amateur« touches are implemented on a »type« and interfere with mechanical form. Re-form, redesign outcomes affirm one as creator, co-creator. And one thus produces his or her own »good design«.

The recepients of the post-modern package who owned such an object took photos of it, put the photos back inside the package along with a short explanation of the object's history and reasons for keeping or fixing it, and sent the package back to us.

Kein Spiel (site intervention)
Natalia Matta-Landero
Location: The Modern Wing, Chicago, 2009


This work was the result of an ongoing research on the particular cultural processes that take place in contemporary Latin-America. Focusing on colonization and identity issues, I worked on the idea of developing a Chess Board based on a map of America. This action tackles the encounter of Europeans with the indigenous peoples of Latin America and the later duality of dependence and exploitation between Northern and Southern cultures. I played a chess game on this board alone at the Modern Wing in Chicago in May 2009.

Discover Chicago
(Bauhaus Labs 2009, Experiencing Modern in Cooperation with SAIC and IIT, Chicago)
Loukas Bartatilas, Martin Leibinger, Natalia Matta-Landero, Emily Lin
Location: Chicago


The Discover-Chicago-machine is a concept between art and design. It was developed in a two weeks workshop in the course of Chicago¬ Bauhaus Labs. As an alternative tourist guide, this gadget will be installed¬ on traffic lights to be discovered by passers-by. It provides personal information that was collected in interviews with tourists and locals. On a small sheet of paper the user will receive little stories about Chicago experiences and hidden places together¬ with a map. Finally the product could be regarded as a collector‘s item or souvenir, or as an instruction¬ to send someone on a personal little adventure.

Auf das Bauhaus kommt es an !? (temporary intervention)
Martin Leibinger
Location: Weimar, 16. March 2009-07-22


The intervention Auf das Bauhaus kommt es an!? (The Bauhaus is essential!?) reflects the Bauhaus movement in Germany, in particular relating to its presentation at the 90th anniversary exhibition in Weimar. The work approaches the social thought connected to the Bauhaus idea while at the same time questioning its actual relevance. Consequently, it appears as a counterpart to the exhibition in Weimar entitled Das Bauhaus kommt aus Weimar (The Bauhaus is from Weimar). Accordingly, Auf das Bauhaus kommt es an!?, operates on a minimal scale, rejecting the conventions of exhibition design. The only exhibit is an attempt of re-appropriating a Bauhaus design for contemporary conditions. Thus the 20 million Mark emergency-money bill made by Herbert Bayer for the Sate of Thuringia in 1923 becomes a 25 Cent emergency- money Sticker. Affixed on empty plastic bottles with the comparatively high deposit value of 25 Cent, the exhibit hints at the increasing need for alternative sources of subsistence. Finally, these bottles were dispersed throughout Weimar for the Long Night of Museums event on March 16th.

Feeling Mies (blues, video)
Nina Schmidt, Martin Leibinger
Location: Chicago, May 2009


A simple blues rhythm accompanies photographs of architecture not designed by Bauhaus architect Mies van De Rohe but which could have been. The blues song I’m feeling Mies (mies= Ger. sad/bad/blue) was developed during a walk through downtown Chicago with an undersized guitar. The action is a way of reflecting and performing the first impressions of visiting the cradle of modern American Architecture. Documented in sound, movie and images, it resulted in a music video clip which can be approached on many different levels while not taking itself too seriously.

Experiencing Bauhaus Today (4 prints, 75x135cm)
Loukas Bartatilas
Location: Germany/Chicago


What was used as the most important tool for my research was the fact that I was living in Weimar and I visited for some days the other Bauhaus cities (Dessau, Berlin, Chicago). Furthermore, the exhibitions for the Bauhaus’ 90th anniversary along with my visit to the Bauhaus archives, gave me the opportunity to see the original works. As a result, my understanding about the school was made not by descriptions or photos, but through my body presence in the original places as well as through watching the original products. In other words, looking back at the Bauhaus, the distance was only chronically and not spatially. Simultaneously, I started to search for photos, showing the everyday life in the Bauhaus in order to understand better the context into which the works were created. As a final result of that research, which represents my personal experience related with the Bauhaus, are series of pictures, divided into three categories: a) Re-enactments of the original pictures in the dormitories of the Dessau building, b) pictures from the Bauhaus archives, c) today’s condition from places/buildings in Weimar and Dessau, related with the Bauhaus life.

‘Evacuation Plans’
Sofia Ntona
Location: Germany


In the ‘Evacuation Plans’ project the idea was to collect various evacuation plans of important architectural buildings and position them on the wall of the corridor, next to the evacuation plan of the Main Bauhaus Building in Weimar. Some of the evacuation plans added, were Louis Sullivan’s ‘Sullivan Centre’, Mies Van der Rohe’s Crown Hall, Holabird & Roche’s Chicago building, C.F. Murphy Associates’s Chase Tower, D.H. Burnham & Company’s Fisher bulding.
The idea focuses on the evacuation plan as a system that uses an architectural language to present the space of the building to the public. The evacuation plan is used only inside public buildings and buildings that are visited by many people regularly and it is connected to the idea of destruction. It also presents an alternative route in the building, mostly the quickest or the safest one in order to evacuate the building. Through the various evacuation plans added next to the real one of the Main Bauhaus Building, I tried to present another image of the buildings, their public use, their hidden spaces and stairways that open in an emergency case, their forbidden spaces. Together with the architectural value that the visitors admire while entering in the Bauhaus building, they have the chance to notice and elaborate its architectural plan together with the ones of the other buildings, realizing also their fragile structure and the always present possibility of their destruction.