April 2009


09 Bauhaus 90

Theater as Screen

Theater as Screen

Weimar is a city that imagines itself to be the center of culture for not just Germany, but the entire planet.

You may think that I am joking, but it’s been a decade since Weimar was the European Capital of Culture (back in 1999), and the city is still celebrating. The city is all over its past associations with Goethe, Schiller, Liszt, Bach, Hans Christian Anderson (he passed through the city once), and more.

The city is also proud that the Bauhaus movement started right here, back in 1919, thus making ’09 the 90th anniversary—and the city is celebrating this with festive celebration—putting up this funky sculpture celebrating Bauhaus all over town.

Of course, and what they don’t like to talk about, is that there are actually only a few examples of Bauhaus architecture here in town—mainly because the early innovator and founder, Walter Gropius, was chased from Weimar in 1925, a mere six years after his school was founded. It was a victim of changing state governments—a new Thüringen government had differing budgetary priorities

Historic Faces

Historic Faces

But we won’t discuss that too much—rather last night I went to a huge light show /performance art celebrating Bauhaus in Theaterplatz. It was dazzling performance with images projected onto the façades of the National Theater, the Bauhaus Museum, and the Goethe Kaufhaus.

Like most performance art, the designers/architects forgot to consider the people who were there to witness the display. Unless you were sitting on the crane, 30 feet into the air, that was recording the performance, there was zero chance that you could see all of the show.

Frankly, I think that the best standing person might have been able to see 60-70% of what was going on—and I suspect I was one of the lucky few who thought carefully about where to stand. I couldn’t see what was happening to the statues of Goethe and Schiller, but I could see the entire front of the National Theater, the entire front of the Bauhaus Museum, and about 40% of the Goethe Kaufhaus.

Find the MC

Museum Facade

The show, itself, consisted of several distinct segments. The first was a dazzling performance of some kind—I can’t remember what it was, but it worked. After that there was an opera-singing segment that was ill considered. The signer was spotlighted at the top of the national theater, but hard to see—and then there were three pairs dancing to her singing dancing on the theater’s balcony—but without spotlights. It was difficult to see them and I would be willing to bet that half the crowd never saw them nor had any clue that they were there.

The next segment, which pretty well lasted until the end was what I would characterize as the Close Encounters segment—I half expected a space ship to stop by and pick up some of the performers. It was in this segment that our MC made his first appearance (that I noticed)—a masked man wearing a glittering body suit. It’s the kind of suit that you would expect a comic-book superhero to wear—either that or a drag queen, once boobs are inserted.

Find the MC

Find the MC

There was a piece about light—which emerged from the theater—with poetry in English—which frustrated some people to my left (Keine Ahnung!).

Really I ended up not really being clear what the point was—it was cool seeing the façades being used as gigantic screens for projecting images, but it was simultaneously too conservative and too liberal. Conservative in that they didn’t play with images more—the images were highly repetitive, and liberal in that they tried to cover too many bases in one show—there was even a rapper toward the end of the show, rapping in English.

By the end of the show, my cold had returned in full force, so I headed back home—and into bed.

I might have only gotten out of my house for a scant two hours yesterday, and whilst I didn’t get everything, I enjoyed it, which, I guess, counts for something.

1 comment to 09 Bauhaus 90

  • The show sounds on one hand interesting and well thought out in basic design, but on the other hand seemed like art flattering itself since little thought went into if the intended audience could actually make it out.

    Sooner or later I’m coming over there so I can see soem of this stuff!