Updated: Mar 29, 2020
By Alex Stuart
Germany forecast to dominate world culture news next year.
The sources used come from our neck of the woods this week - two major articles in The Economist’s special edition ‘The World in 2019’ (here) concern German cultural developments. Journalist Barbara Beck praises the ‘immortal chic’ of Bauhaus as the art and design school approaches its 100thbirthday. Countries worldwide that have adopted the functional aestheticism in their architecture such as Brazil, China and Japan are planning festivals and celebrations for the occasion. The Bauhaus style is timeless, with a “disdain for ornamentation” and a reliance on mass production. Tel Aviv’s ‘White City’ architecture is a prime example; German-Jewish Bauhaus students settled there to avoid persecution in the 1930s. Everyday objects such as Mies van der Rohe’s ‘Barcelona’ chair remain a staple in corporate offices today. Head over to auf dem Laufenden’s Instagram for photos!
Neil MacGregor recognised
Neil MacGregor cemented his BNOC status amongst Germanophiles following his 2014 British Museum exhibition and accompanying book Memories of a Nation. His article in ‘The World in 2019’ confronts the challenges facing the Humboldt Forum, of which he is founding director. Significantly, MacGregor doesn’t shy away from the uncomfortable questions concerning colonial-era artefacts and dark chapters of Germany’s past. He says the Forum in fact provides a platform for “intense civic debate” and marks a “painful expansion of Germany’s “Erinnerungskultur” (culture of remembering), now so ingrained in its political discourse. He foresees political criticism surrounding the government’s decision to rebuild the Kaiser’s baroque palace on the site of the former GDR ‘puppet parliament’ building; it will trigger resentment amongst East Germans who feel the GDR is being written out of history. He further highlights the “gratuitous provocation” of exhibiting objects acquired in the context of colonial crime. MacGregor thus welcomes debate on behalf of the Humboldt Forum, in order to show that Germany is willing and able, unlike many of its European counterparts, to confront the past with “unflinching honesty”.