En ce jeudi 12 novembre je me trouve toujours en Corée du sud, pour encore deux semaines. A l’occasion du vernissage de l’exposition Play Bauhaus ici à Séoul, c’est ma rencontre avec Torsten Blume que j’aimerai partager avec vous. Torsten travaille dans l’actuelle école du Bauhaus, il préparait une performance avec les étudiants de PaTI, pour le vernissage de l’exposition. A ma grande joie, il a accepté de m’accorder un peu de temps malgré son agenda surchargé… Je vous laisse découvrir ses positions passionnantes sur l’enseignement actuel du design.
Bien à vous.
Cliquez sur « suite » pour lire l’interview !
I met Torsten Blume in PaTI on september, he is the actual curator of Play Bauhaus with Christian Hiller. Play Bauhaus is an exhibition about Bauhaus at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul. He was in PaTi to prepare a performance with PaTI students named « type dance » for the opening of the exhibition.
I heard a lot about the Bauhaus during my studies: it’s a big school which produced great designers. I’m now interviewing you in Korea. My question will be: What are you doing here and what is the relation between your being here and your role in the Bauhaus?
Actually it used to be a great but a small school, 200 students, not the same school as before. It was closed in 1932 and burned down in 1933. And since 1994 it is a foundation. It’s not a traditional school any more, more like a university. We offer different courses and teaching programs.
My position is in-between the museum and the school: my aim is to collect, to communicate, to keep the legacy of the Bauhaus, and to develop new courses and practices. I’m working as a scientific and artistic member of the Bauhaus; I’m an artist and a researcher. I’m a practicing artist scenographer and I work on scenographic projects. I’m especially keen on updating the Bauhaus as an ideal. If you ask people about their idea of the Bauhaus, they will mention great designers and artists. They forget that the Bauhaus used to be a school. Many people will think about abstract painters such as Kandinsky. But it was a laboratory and it used to be a school which formed architects and designers.
Some students became famous or made famous products, like Brandt did: over a three-year period, she made this tea pot, some glasses, and a lamp, and before and after her time there were other artists and designers but nobody is interested anymore. So I’m curating exhibitions, but also doing workshops, teaching, developing projects over the Bauhaus pedagogy. PaTI is a very interesting place to be for me, because we have the same questions about pedagogy, we can share our experiences in pedagogy with Pati.
To make it shorter, I think Ahn Sang Soo showed a great interest in the Bauhaus because it is a non-academic learning place. We favour close connections between teachers and students, we create experiences which teach the students to remain sensitive, we want them to learn through real projects. We want to avoid too much specialisation, we want to open up the students’ minds. At the beginning, the first director had no curriculum, he only had a large vision based on a principle: another way to learn, another education. The Bauhaus was at that time imagined as a productive learning community, an artistic community. This practical approach is what seduced Ahn Sang Soo. That’s why he sometimes invite crazy teachers, to freely explore all the possibilities, to perform. We encourage the students to invent, to remain playful and curious. We want the students to be surprised by their own creations, to design experimental settings for creational processes, and to entertain a utopian view of what design might be. Everything we do in the Bauhaus is about learning and how to learn. It is a constant re-start. A very pedestrian way of approaching design but also of approaching teaching and learning. We try to avoid abstract theoretical discussions. We want students to make their own experiences.
The Bauhaus used to be considered only as a show case. And in the 20s the Bauhaus underwent a lot of economic pressure, which explains why they produced so many marketable objects. They had to protect themselves form the economic pressure. Today, the pressure has not died, and schools still have products to show. But in such schools as the Bauhaus or Pati, the only thing that matters is what happens inside the school, the way the products are created. The products are only tools. They represent a resistance to the economic tension, their only interest is in their allowing the teaching to take place. At university, you have to stick to the curriculum, to pass your bachelor, your master, your doctorate, etc… And when you have undergone five years of stress, you have forgotten that what you wanted in the first place was to learn. However, learning should be the most important thing in your studies and it should be a feel-good activity.
Designers should learn how to keep their creativity fresh, and never forget how to develop themselves further. You constantly have to put yourself in a situation where you might get ideas. Experiences and an open mind teach you how to create. You can learn everywhere but you cannot make an idea. To have ideas, you must never stop stimulating your mind and senses. The creativity process is what the Bauhaus is experimenting with. One department, which was not intended for theatre specialists, forms stage artists, stage designers, who should be able to draw in space or to design stage objects. It was intended like a new space to explore. This performance we are showing here is pedagogical. Looking at it, is like watching somebody drawing. The audience might make some sense out of it, or even feel deeply touch, but our main target was the students, to make them experience something profound. It is very close to the Bauhaus’s stage idea, to the performing design.
What did you do before the Bauhaus?
I worked as a visual artist, I designed exhibitions, but I’ve been with the Bauhaus for about ten years now, so what I did before seems like a long time ago. Directing this foundation is a wonderful job. The Bauhaus is an ideal place to meet artists and create an artistic community. It is a wonderful platform to design arts, and to work on and in space. Since last year the interest for the Bauhaus pedagogy has been growing everywhere. Last year we started to show this exhibition about the stage history of the Bauhaus around the world, it opened up in Oslo on 09/21st, and we are going to open in Seoul. It comes with a catalogue, a DVD, conferences and workshops. We also work with a university centre in Brasil.
I think that many people now understand that the Bauhaus is not only a form, a style, it is an attitude. I don’t want to be Mr Bauhaus, for everybody may define their own Bauhaus, it is not even a German thing. Maybe it is a utopian conception of art and design, but I want to believe that design still has some purpose even though today it does not have such a good image and is undergoing an important crisis. Design is at the intersection between art and applied art. It did not use to be called design but Gestaltung in German, which means form but also production, creation, organisation, decoration, etc. The word design came up in the 60s, an English word to make the concept go international.
This interview finished on that inspiring words.. We had just 30 minutes to discuss, and even if Torsten was worried about his competence to answer properly to my questions in that short time, I had a really exciting meeting and rewarding. That what I thought when I saw his leaving quickly to be on time to his next rendez-vous.
fashion designer of the costume performance: Jang Kyu Jong
Photographies: Park Ki Su et Woojae Lee