ZKM | Karlsruhe
artists & participants
February 8–May 17, 2020
Opening: February 7, 7pm
bauhaus.film.expanded, curated by Markus Heltschl, Thomas Tode, and Peter Weibel, presents over sixty Bauhaus films which have been produced since the 1920s.
New research has shown that 28 Bauhaus authors were involved in the making of films or light projections, including Ellen Auerbach, Ella Bergmann-Michel, Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack, Lázló-Moholy-Nagy, Kurt Schwerdtfeger, and Oskar Schlemmer. Persecution by the Nazis, emigration, and war destroyed parts of the Bauhaus film corpus with the effect that the ongoing development of the modern film in Germany came to a halt. The discovery of films previously thought to be lost and digital reconstructions of other films that were hitherto screened incorrectly (wrong projection speed or order of film sequences) now makes it possible to show this great selection of Bauhaus films in their original state especially with regard to color and sound.
In 1924 Bauhaus director Walter Gropius designed a Totaltheater (total theatre) for Erwin Piscator. “I have not only envisaged the possibility of film projection upon the whole cyclorama of my three-fold stage by means of movable projectors,” Gropius wrote, “but I can also set the entire audience inside a film, as it were, by projecting on walls and ceiling.” Immersion in this virtual environment visionarily contains the concept of Expanded Cinema. By using multiple large-scale projections that juxtapose sixty films simultaneously, the exhibition captures Gropius’s idea of “putting the room under film.” A multitude of film projectors creates an intense immersive experience.
Bauhaus professor László Moholy-Nagy advocated establishing a “central experimental film section” at the Bauhaus school. As one of the most important image theorists of the twentieth century and one of the leading innovators at the Bauhaus he placed film and photography at the center of his thinking about “Neues Sehen – New Vision.” However, he was not successful in securing the necessary funding for this venture. Thematically and formally the films fall into four categories: Abstract Films, Political and Experimental Film Essays, Architectural Films, and Expanded Cinema.
Some Bauhaus authors could only realize the films they had conceived in their Bauhaus years after the war – partly because their projects needed color film and that had not yet been introduced. The light projections, dance and object theater, which were always presented live in the 1920s, can be viewed on recordings from the post-war period.
A number of these films are being screened for the first time in Germany. The films held in archives and estates outside of Germany include four works by Horacio Coppola as well as Moholy-Nagy’s recently rediscovered Tönendes ABC (ABC in Sound). Many of the films were digitized for this exhibition for the first time at the correct projection speed for silent films. bauhaus.film.expanded is a tribute to the Bauhaus world of moving images and demonstrates the amazing potential that the Bauhaus authors developed in the medium of film.
Films by: Ellen Auerbach, Ella Bergmann-Michel, Peter Böhm, Gerhard Bohner, Heinrich Brocksieper, Utz Brocksieper, Marc Chargall, Horacio Coppola, Hans Cürlis, Viking Eggeling, Alfred Ehrhardt, Werner Graeff, Heide-Marie Härtel, Margarete Hastings, Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack, Wassily Kandinsky, Kurt Kranz, György Kepes, Lore Leudesdorff, Joan Miró, László Moholy-Nagy, Richard Paulick, Peter Pewas, Oskar Pietsch, Julius Pinschewer, Bernhard Radetzki, Hans Richter, Martin Rupprecht, Walter Ruttmann, Oskar Schlemmer, Kurt Schwerdtfeger, Corinne Schweizer, Ré Soupault (b. Erna Niemeyer), Grete Stern, Ivana Tomljenovic.