Rather than being organized chronologically, ‘original bauhaus’ is structured around 14 case studies: one for every year that the Bauhaus ran until it was forcibly closed by the Nazis in 1933. “The Bauhaus is no monolith, it’s very diverse, and we chose very subjectively 14 stories from this huge universe”, Nina explains. “We didn’t want to show everything, but to unfold these cases carefully.” From Moholy-Nagy’s question of Production – Reproduction, to topics like Revivals, Unity in Diversity, Unique Works in Series, Writing History and Family Resemblances, each section approaches the Bauhaus through a unique lens, offering insight to the institution as both a movement, and perhaps more interestingly, as a school.
One of the case studies is Marianne Brandt’s tea infuser; a diminutive piece that never entered production, which Nina describes as having a “fierce intensity”. Brandt was the first female student to work in the Metall-Werkstatt at the Bauhaus; a department that she would later go on to lead. It was during her time studying at the Weimar campus that she handmade eight almost-identical infusers, whose iconic geometric forms were – like a vast majority of Bauhaus pieces – intended for mass production. The exhibition features seven of the eight originals, delivered from collections around the world, and which are displayed together for the first time at the Berlinische Galerie.
“We wanted to show her work in the context of her apprenticeship”, Nina explains, gesturing to a shelf where the implements used to create the tea infusers sit quietly. This contextualizing and recontextualizing is present throughout the exhibition, and offers insight into a more structural side of Bauhaus education. “The Bauhaus as a school is central to the exhibition”, Nina enthuses. “They had incredible teachers, experts who taught the preliminary courses; and that is particularly important, because today people think we don’t need art in our schools. This exhibition argues that yes, yes we do.”