The Learning Body

Eine Frau verbirgt ihren Kopf in einer Muschel aus Papier | © Sebastian Albert

How can (body) boundaries be overcome and what has one's own body not yet learned? Ten students of the teacher training programme "Design: Technology.Textiles" are exploring these questions in an exhibition at the Bauhaus Museum Dessau.

Exhibition in the experimental room,
Bauhaus MuseumDessau
30. 3. 2023-7. 1. 2024

Project team:
Corina Forthuber (head), Stefano Mori & Patrick Schaudy.

Image: Julia Kirnich: Antisocial Backpack

The Bauhaus Dessau is the former school building of the State Bauhaus and home to the art school founded in Weimar. Even almost 100 years after its construction, it stands for one of the most influential educational institutions in the field of architecture, design and art. And for the - then revolutionary - merging of art and craft: anyone who deals with design today deals with the Bauhaus. Today's Bauhaus Museum Dessau combines the historic master houses and workshops with a new building designed by the Spanish Addenda Architects and opened four years ago. Here, in the midst of the collection, which shows works by Bauhaus students and teachers of the time, there are three rooms for changing exhibitions. From 30 March to 7 January 2024, an exhibition by ten students from the Department of Fine Arts & Design at the Mozarteum University will be on show in the "Experimentation Room". 

"About two years ago I was invited to the European Forum on Education-Oriented Design Making: Towards a Bauhaus School Europe: Workshops for the Whole Earth', which explored the question of what contribution the Bauhaus and designers can and should make now and in the future. I presented our teacher training programme Design: Technology.Textiles with our mission statement 'How to make? How to think? How to live?' and that was very well received. In return, Anne Schneider from the curatorial workshop of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation was a guest at our talk format 'Jour Fixe' - and was enthusiastic about the workshops and our study programme. A comparable teacher training programme for design is not offered in Germany and the Design: Technology.Textiles programme at the Department of Fine Arts & Design at the University Mozarteum Salzburg is special in the Austrian teacher training landscape in terms of equipment and supervision. After this visit, we received the request from the Bauhaus for cooperation," says Corina Forthuber, university professor in the field of design (technology) and project manager of "The Learning Body".

The exhibition is part of the annual programme in the "Zwischenräume" of the Bauhaus, which deals with gestures of the body in 2023. Together with Oliver Klimpel, the head of the curatorial Workshop, the theme was developed, which Corina Forthuber implemented as a semester project with ten Bachelor students in the winter semester 2022/23. "It was a very brave invitation, also an invitation to experiment! At the beginning it wasn't clear what would come of it, the topic wasn't easy for the students either. It is not a classic design task to deal with one's own body and its modification possibilities. A great introduction to the topic was a joint visit to Bauhaus architecture in Dessau and a workshop with Stiftung Freizeit, an architecture collective from Berlin. We started by breaking out of the usual, learned body experience and did things that you definitely don't normally do in public space: crawl or hop on all fours in a shopping centre, crawl, jump on one leg or walk backwards. Or lie down and sleep in a museum (laughs). To lose one's inhibition or memory."

One work deals with writing with other parts of the body and enables the experience that people with disabilities or impairments have to learn everyday things differently. Another work invites people to see and move themselves in a third-person perspective, as if in a computer game, and one student designed the "Antisocial Backpack" for personal retreat in public space. "The students focused on different parts of the body and tried to throw overboard what they had learned and find out where the body as a whole had not yet been made experiential. The project can really be seen as an expansion of consciousness and body. Analogous also to the body culture that played a big role in the historical Bauhaus." For Corina Forthuber, the collaboration with the Bauhaus Museum Dessau is profitable in several respects: "Our houses complement each other very well: a museum that used to be a pioneering school of design and a university whose students later teach and teach design in schools. It's a perfect match. Two different institutions with the same concerns and the same questions about the future. These questions also resonate in each student's design." To have seen the Bauhaus once and to experience the history on site is important for all students in the field of design, crafts or architecture - working together with the Bauhaus is an enormous opportunity, emphasises Corina Forthuber. With very functional approaches, the history and revolution of the Bauhaus still have an effect today, and the students are currently thinking about how to continue: questioning their own role, also in terms of inclusion, diversity, sustainability and "looking beyond the horizon".

The fact that the Bauhaus is actually exhibiting all the prototypes that were developed was a big surprise for Forthuber and her students. The original plan was to show videos or individual projects in the space. All the objects will be exhibited, made usable within the mediation programme and will be on display in Dessau for nine months, right in the middle of the collection and the works of the Bauhäusler of the time. The work, which deals with writing with other parts of the body, can be tried out permanently. "That was also the beauty of this project: the students really used all aspects of the course, with very different materials and techniques. In the first two years of study, they learn the basics in ten workshops ranging from wood, paper, ceramics, plastics and metal workshops to tailoring, weaving, dyeing, screen printing to 3D printing to photo studios and receive theoretical, subject didactic and creative-artistic input. The workshops in Alpenstraße and their versatility are very special and offer an extremely wide range of interdisciplinary possibilities in the study programme. This diversity could flow 100 per cent into the project." 

Corina Forthuber is particularly curious about the response to the exhibition. "Maybe someone will really learn to write with their heel (laughs). The duration of the exhibition is very long, I am happy if many people get involved and the students' work can shine outwards. Last but not least, that the Department of Fine Arts & Design and our degree programme Design: Technology.Textiles are also noticed. The subject has great relevance at present and in the future, of that I am convinced. Especially in a rapidly changing world, a questioning of habitual actions, a knowledge of craftsmanship, repair and recycling, a conscious use of resources in combination with digitalisation are essential and extremely valuable for our students - especially because they will later carry it into schools and thus into the future."

With works by:
Julia Kirnich, Christian Veichtlbauer, Elena Lengauer, Julia Burgholzer, 
Matthias Salfinger, Valerie Marie-Luise Magnus, Pia Geisreiter, Benedikt Veichtlbauer, Alba Malika Belhadj Merzoug, Leonie Lindinger


(First published in the Uni-Nachrichten / Salzburger Nachrichten on 4 March 2023)

Zur Veranstaltung

More News