Date of Submission
Film and Electronic Arts
Students of the arts have always been faced with the same kind of problems. How does one think about art? How does one learn from the previous generation without blindly following their edicts? How does one preserve one’s artistic integrity, when interpersonal relationships are so often affected by one’s creative choices?
Rachel and Paul, the protagonists of Bauen, are art students at the Bauhaus in 1920’s Germany. The backdrop for their tale is a country that has just come out of a deeply demoralizing war, yet is buzzing with the sentiment of a new era. More specifically, the story takes place in a new and still-fragile institution that is filled with people of radically different backgrounds, all bursting with ideas about how to create something new and better. In this environment, the stakes are raised. The problem of how to approach art making can no longer be a personal struggle, it inadvertently becomes political and strongly ideological.
Rachel is part of a largely underrepresented group at the Bauhaus, a sort of spiritual cult that formed around Johannes Itten, one of the early teachers at the school. She is an ideologue, who is unapologetically trying to proselytize everyone who comes her way, especially the object of her half-hearted desire, Paul. Paul is taken by the practically oriented mind of Walter Gropius and intrigued by the social possibilities of functionalist Architecture, a field that Rachel sees as diametrically opposed to everything she believes in.
While Johannes Itten and Walter Gropius are historical figures of importance, Paul and Rachel are fictional characters, created to represent the ideological struggles that permeated the first few years of the Bauhaus. Finding the right balance between fact and fiction proved to be the most challenging part of my project. In the end, I decided to let the fictional characters and their personal problems have the stage, hoping that they can convey adequately what it meant to be an art student in 1920’s Germany.
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Enzensberger, Theresia, "Bauen" (2011). Senior Projects Spring 2011. 127.