Exercising Modernity is a Polish-German-Israeli project, with the annual Academy as its core. The first edition of the Exercising Modernity Academy in 2018 was about the concept of modernity, both in a historical and a contemporary perspective. Three cultural and social phenomena of the interwar period, symbolizing universal interdisciplinary modernization programs, were focused in 2018:
First, the Bauhaus movement with its new consideration of the human living condition, and related to this, the question of how the fine arts and the applied arts could satisfy or even stimulate human needs. The Bauhaus stands for a revolutionary view of artistic creation and production of art, guided by the idea of bringing art and architecture closer to the concrete needs of people.
Secondly, the Academy dealt with ideas that shaped Poland in the interwar period, i.e. the discussion about progress and the building of foundations for a free, democratic state, which is illustrated by the example of Gdynia. The history of the development of its city center is not only an example of the development of ideas of emancipation and modernization through architecture and urban planning, but also shows how modernity was linked to political needs and goals – in this case, a program to establish a functioning state system.
A third point of reference were the modernist ideas that shaped the architecture of the nascent state of Israel: The “White City” of Tel Aviv forms the world’s largest assemblage of 1930s architecture inspired by the principles and forms of the International Style. Here, too, modernism was a response to specific social and political needs, and the promise of a new, better life is evident in the architecture’s modernity.
The goal of the project was to confront three independent narratives of modernism – Polish, German, and Israeli – while highlighting their mutual references. The discussion also focused on the question of what modernity meant one hundred years ago and what elements of modern thinking at that time could be important today; furthermore, what role the legacy of modernism plays today in these places, and what the results were of attempting to implement modernist utopias.
In 2018, the Exercising Modernity project took place within the framework of the Academy (in Gdynia and at the Bauhaus Denkmal Bundesschule in Bernau bei Berlin) and a program of public events, including concerts, lectures and discussions.
October 3–8, 2018 — Gdynia
October 23–28, 2018 — Bernau bei Berlin
Dawny Dom Szwedzkiego Marynarza / Konsulat Kultury
Jana z Kolna 25
81-354 Gdynia, Polen
Gdynia City Museum
Zawiszy Czarnego 1
81-374 Gdynia, Polen
Baudenkmal Bundesschule Bernau
16321 Bernau bei Berlin, Deutschland
The organizers cover travel and accommodation costs as well as meals for the participants. Participation in the program is free of charge. Attendance at the two workshops in Gdynia (3.–8.10.2018) and Bernau bei Berlin (23.–28.10.2018) is mandatory for all participants.
After the end of the course, participants can submit a research or art project developed during the Academy. The fellowship program is sponsored by the Pilecki Institute and is dedicated to questions about modernism in the 20th century.
Katri Anita Miettinen
Michalina Ludmiła Musielak
Maria Anna Rogucka
The program consisted of lectures, workshops and seminars.
The activities took place from morning to evening. Each day ended with an evening lecture. During the workshops, participants chose between one of two teaching options.
Program files are available here:
Agata Abramowicz – a historian and historian of art, and the Deputy Director of the Gdynia City Museum. She has gained recognition as the co-curator of numerous exhibitions, among others the main exhibition at the Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk and the permanent exhibition “Gdynia-dzieło otwarte” at the Gdynia City Museum, and the coordinator of various national and international artistic projects.
Shira Levy Benyemini
Shira Levy-Benyemini is the Director of the White City Center, a collaboration of the Tel Aviv municipality and the German Government. She received her master’s degree in Urban Planning and Public Policy from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Levy Benyemini specializes in planning in urban renewal and conservation zones and publicly-engaged communal planning. In recent years, she has been leading urban projects incorporating planning, activism, and culture.
The Liebling Project: The Modern Think Tank of the White City
Modern architecture and its local adaptation were the basis for the 2003 declaration of the White City of Tel Aviv as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, generating momentum for urban conservation projects. Conservation is usually perceived as a process that focuses on the physical aspects of the modernist movement, rather than its intangible, social aspects. The decision to establish a center focused on all aspects of architectural heritage, both tangible and intangible, provided an opportunity to host a unique residency program: The Liebling Project. The Liebling Project was a research and action group that invited multidisciplinary creatives – from architects to musicians – to study the concept of conservation and urbanism in the context of modern architecture. The project, in collaboration with the Conservation Department of the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality, operated at the White City Center during its inaugural year, developing future activities of the urban culture and education center dedicated to the early years of Tel Aviv, and the modernist influences that shaped it. The project – supported by the executive team of the White City Center – made temporary use of the Max Liebling House as it is being converted into the WCC. The reopening of the center is scheduled for autumn 2019.
Sabrina Cegla is the public program curator at the White City Center Tel Aviv, an urban hub based in the UNESCO heritage zone and operating in collaboration with the German government. She was trained as an architect at the David Azrieli School of Architecture, at the Tel Aviv University, graduated with a bachelor in architecture. After graduation, she founded an independent architecture and design studio in Berlin, Germany, specializing on interior design, artistic direction and curating for projects ranging from exhibitions and cultural projects to educational facilities. Since 2015, she leads the public program at the White City Center in Tel Aviv, a multidisciplinary program provoking discussion and action on topics of preservation, architecture and urban heritage, as well as curated several exhibitions at the center.
chmara.rosinke (Maciej Chmara & Anna Rosinke)
chmara.rosinke is a design studio based in Vienna and Berlin. Since 2011 chmara.rosinke studio designs, directs and executes objects, interiors and pop-ups from concept through to creation. They strive to combine craftsmanship with a conceptual and ecological approach, realizing both commissioned and self-inititated projects. Many of their works are inspired by functional and socio-cultural aspects and are trying to translate their observations into objects after its analysis and research. In their designs chmara.rosinke pay a lot of attention to details and the emotions objects and spaces arouse in people. Above all, they see aesthetics as an important sustainability factor.
Anna Rosinke and Maciej Chmara met during their architecture and design studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk. Their shared passion for design and art has led to their cooperation. After finishing studies in Gdańsk, they have spent two terms at the Kunstuniversität in Linz (space & design strategies), some time at the Akademie der bildenden Künste and the TU Wien, and have worked at several architectural offices. Their background includes a wide range of fields from drawing, art history, architectural theory to interior and object design, what allows them to develop a good understanding for creative work and its realization.
Their projects have been shown during the Milan, Dutch, Paris, New York, and Vienna Design Week, in MAK, the Austrian Museum of Applied Arts, and other international design fairs and exhibitions.
chmara.rosinke have received many internationally appreciated awards like, among others, the Neue Wiener Werkstätte Design Award 2012, DMY Berlin Award 2012, a recognition of the Outstanding Artist Award for Experimental Design. In 2014, they were finalists of the prestigious The Prix Émile Hermès and were distinguished as MAK designer-in-residence in 2013. Their works are a part of the collection of MAK Austrian Museum of Applied Arts and of Hofmobiliendepot. In 2014 they have curated their first design show: “Austria-South Africa: in discourse” – an Austrian exhibition in Cape town during “Cape town – design capital 2014”. In 2015, together with breadedEscalope and Patrick Rampelotto, they have launched SPAZIO PULPO – a space for experimental design in Vienna.
Their works were published in ICON, FRAME, Le Monde, Die Zeit, Süddeutsche Zeitung, FvF, Elle decoration, Domus, Vogue, Icon, AD, thisispaper, Damn, Li Edelkoort’s trend tablet and many more.
The artists of the Bauhaus and the creators of the new city of Gdynia shared the idea of shaping everyday life in a way that would contribute to building a new, better society. This concept has not lost its actuality today, in a time of dynamic social change and the challenges accompanying it. During our workshop, we will scrutinize the Bauhaus concept of designing democratic space, test its relevance in today’s world, and finally attempt to bring it up to date taking into account local conditions. The aim of the workshop is to design elements of a mobile device/installation that will temporarily transform public space and express our postulates defined during the meeting.
David Crowley is professor of Visual Culture at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin. He has a special interest in modernism in art and design, often with a focus on the histories of Eastern Europe under communist rule. His books include Warsaw (2003), Socialism and Style. Material Culture in Post-war Eastern Europe (2000), Socialist Spaces. Sites of Everyday Life in the Eastern Bloc (2003) and Pleasures in Socialism: Leisure and Luxury in the Eastern Bloc (2010). Crowley also curates exhibitions including ‘Cold War Modern’ at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2008–9 with Jane Pavitt, ‘Sounding the Body Electric. Experiments in Art and Music in Eastern Europe’ at Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź, 2012 and Calvert 22 / London, 2013 and ‘Notes from the Underground’ Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź, 2016 and Akademie der Künste, Berlin 2018 – both with Daniel Muzyczuk.
Real Existing Modernism c. 1981 – the Past, Present and Future of Polish Modernist Architecture
In 1981 a group of architects in Warsaw issued an ‘underground’ manifesto accusing their profession of acquiescing to illegitimate power in the People’s Republic of Poland. The ‘Warsaw Charter’was the boldest and most damning critique of modern architecture published anywhere and at any time in the Eastern Bloc.
In this talk, David Crowley will look back from the vantage point of 1981 to explore the manifesto’s critique of 20th century modernism. He will also look forward from this year, to reflect on the transformation of the cityscapes of Poland since the collapse of communist rule. In the age of hyper capitalism, the modern architecture of communist Poland appears today to be the subject of considerable nostalgia and sentiment – why should this be?
Tomasz Fudala is an art historian and curator at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw. He is interested in architecture and the history of exhibitions, which was the subject to his project The Space Between Us. He is curator of the WARSAW UNDER CONSTRUCTION FESTIVAL (2009-2017), which is organized by the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw and Museum of Warsaw and attempts to describe the character of Warsaw. His writings have appeared in Domus, Artforum, Odra, Obieg, CzasKultury, and Autoportret.
During this workshop we will explore the Cold War propaganda discourse on modernist architecture. By analyzing texts, documents, pop culture iconography and films we will be able to look at the largest investments not only from the angle of aesthetics, but also from the perspective of political history. We will examine exhibitions held in the 1950s as a form of the Cold War modern-life race, investigate the relations between residential architecture and the post-war visions of a “new man”, and also take a look at the concept of cities built from scratch and the types of urbanity that they created. Our most important question will be the following: How did governments communicate large-scale investments at various times during the Cold War? How was the social modernist project used to “sell” new ways of living? Where does the current interest in modernism stem from?
Dr. Jacek Friedrich is an art historian and the Director of the Gdynia City Museum. He currently works at the Institute of Art History at the University of Gdańsk. His research centers on modern visual culture, the history of architecture and design in the 20th century, and the reconstruction and protection of architectural landmarks.
He has authored a number of publications, including “Neue Stadt in altem Gewand. Der Wiederaufbau von Danzig 1945–1960”, Köln-Weimar-Wien 2010, and “Walka obrazów. Przedstawienia wobec idei w Wolnym Mieście Gdańsku”, Gdańsk 2018. Dr. Friedrich is also the initiator and co-author of the exhibition “Narodziny miasta. Gdyński modernizm w dwudziestoleciu międzywojennym” (Gdynia City Museum, Gdynia 2014).
Sharon Golan-Yaron is Program Director and co-founder of the White City Center in Tel Aviv, an urban hub based in the UNESCO heritage zone and operating in collaboration with the German Federal Ministry. She was trained as an architect at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), Chicago and the Technical University (TU), Berlin, where she received her degree. She later specialized in Heritage Conservation, receiving her master’s degree from the Technion in Haifa. Since 2009, Golan-Yaron serves as a senior architect at the Conservation Department of the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality, specializing in buildings of the Modern Movement.
The Vernacular Paradigm of Modernism in Israel
The lecture focuses on two significant concepts that have been shaping Tel Aviv’s distinct character and contemporary values. The language of modernist architecture has remained the most valuable and meaningful premise of theoretical, historical, and cultural discussions about the DNA of Tel Aviv. The Bauhaus, Le Corbusier, and other leading modern influences were a significant force in the design and planning of Israel at large and the White City of Tel Aviv in particular and demonstrate the popularization of architectural-historical discourse. The second aspect is the modernist Garden City plan, the urban-ecologic concept of city planner and biologist Sir Patrick Geddes, who saw the city as a habitat allowing various organisms to coexist. This applied utopia has contributed to the declaration of Tel Aviv as a UNESCO Heritage Site.
Joanna Kusiak & Kuba Snopek
Dr. Joanna Kusiak is an interdisciplinary urban researcher and writer based at King’s College, University of Cambridge. Her latest research project focuses on urban land and new forms of democratic expropriation. She is also interested in the role that law, legal technicalities and judicial systems play in shaping urban space. She holds a PhD in sociology from TU Darmstadt and is a former visiting researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, University College London and the Humboldt University of Berlin. She is writing a book titled “Orders of Chaos: Law, Land and Neoliberal Globalization in Warsaw”. She is also the author of “Chaos Warszawa: Porządki przestrzenne polskiego kapitalizmu” (Bęc Zmiana 2017) and, with Monika Grubbauer, the editor of “Chasing Warsaw: Socio-Material Dynamics of Urban Change since 1990” (Campus 2012).
Kuba Snopek is an urbanist, educator and architectural theorist. He is curator of the educational program at the Kharkiv School of Architecture. Kuba graduated in urban planning from the Wrocław University of Technology and the Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design in Moscow. He has worked on architecture, city planning, curatorial and research projects in Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Spain and Denmark. He was a faculty member at the Strelka Institute and taught at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO). He is the author of “Belyayevo Forever, about the preservation of intangible heritage” (published in English, Polish and Russian) and co-author of “Architecture of the VII day”, a comprehensive study of the Polish churches built during the communist era. Snopek is an initiator and co-author of Stage, a crowdsourced public space built in Dnipro that received a special mention as part of the prestigious 2018 European Prize for Urban Public Space. Curated by Joanna Kusiak and Kuba Snopek, “New Modernism” is a joint theory/praxis venture into a new systemic thinking about architecture and society.
Due to its real and alleged failures, old modernism has been vilified. Yet, the anti-/post-modern critical approach is also failing us, for it has not provided any cures to the problems it points to. Can we remain critically alert and yet revive modernism’s original ambition to create better urban futures? Engaging the diverse expertise of the workshop participants, we will single out the core values of old modernism. Then, we will attempt to reinvent these values, through grounding them in the new political and economic conditions. To which extent is a New Modernism possible and what might its critical components be?
Florian Mausbach is a city planner. He studied architecture at TU Braunschweig and urban planning at TU Berlin.
As President of the Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning from 1995 to 2009, he was at the forefront of the structural transformation of the reunified Berlin.
He is author of numerous publications, among others: Die Unfähigkeit zu erinnern (Berlin 2006); Über Sinn und Ort eines nationalen Freiheits- und Einheitsdenkmals (Berlin 2008); Bauten die Staat machen (Hamburg 2009); Ideen für Berlin – Bausteine für eine Metropole (Berlin 2010).
In 2008 he received the National Prize of the German National Foundation for the monument to Freedom and Unity in Berlin.
Mausbach is honorary chairman of the Verein Architekturpreis Berlin e. V. As chairman of the Förderverein Villa Wolf e. V., he currently heads a German-Polish initiative for the reconstruction of the first modern house by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in Gubin.
panGenerator (Jakub Koźniewski & Krzysztof Goliński)
panGenerator – a group engaged in design and new media art – was established in 2010 by Piotr Barszczewski, Krzysztof Cybulski, Krzysztof Goliński and Jakub Koźniewski. Its projects combine advanced digital media with innovative spatial forms and engaging interaction – joining the world of bits with the world of atoms. panGenerator’s works have been exhibited world-wide (among others in Melbourne, Beijing, Atlanta, Tel Aviv, Barcelona, Vienna) and at the most prestigious design and art festivals (Ars Electronica, Warszawska Jesień, WRO Media Art Biennale, Łódź Design, Milan Design Week, DMY, SXSW, NODE, etc.). In 2016, the group was awarded the Golden Lion at the Cannes Lions Festival for an installation made for the Warsaw Rising Museum. In addition to its artistic and commercial activities, the group engages in education and the promotion of new media art in Poland.
Designing the future
The workshop focuses on a reflection on modernist visions of the future and proposes utilizing speculative design as a tool for designing the future today. During classes we will use electronics and/or elements of programming. After a one-day introduction, we will define the topics which participants will have to analyze and process. In the following days, making use of simple microcontrollers, sensors and light, we will create prototypes of interactive installations in an attempt to give practical answers to the issues which we have previously identified.
RAZ (Ander Gortazar Balerdi & Jacek Markusiewicz)
RAZ is a Europe-based company specialized in parametric modeling, digital tools, interfaces, data analysis, visual programming and scripting applied to the design of the built environment – ranging from structural solutions and furniture to mobility projects and urban design.
We support project decision-making in every phase of the design process. RAZ merges creativity and problem-solving. We are enthusiastic about data and we use parameters to create algorithms that optimize and automate design processes. However, we do not believe in the impartiality nor the objectivity of data. We create tools but we offer holistic design assistance, putting human decisions in the center of our work.
RAZ is led by Ander Gortazar Balerdi and Jacek Markusiewicz.
Graduated as architects from the University of the Basque Country and the Warsaw University of Technology, respectively, we met each other in the Institute for advanced architecture of Catalonia. We then combined a parametric approach, architecture and urban planning in a Barcelona and Beirut based office built by Associative Data (2010-2013).
Jacek, as a tutor and researcher in the Faculty of Architecture at the Warsaw University of Technology, focuses on human-computer interaction in architectural processes (such as augmented reality, haptic interfaces and responsive design) as well as generative modeling and programming. He is now pursuing his PhD in the Computer Aided Design Department of the Warsaw University of Technology.
Ander is specialist in process optimization through computational tools applied to the built environment. He worked in first level international projects in BuroHappold Engineering (2013-2017), including works by Foster + Partners, Zaha Hadid Architects and Snohetta. He also works as a consultant on mobility and urban planning and regularly publishes articles on these topics. Ander is now pursuing his PhD in urban mobility at the Urban Planning department of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia.
Thibaut de Ruyter
Thibaut de Ruyter is a French architect, curator and critic. He lives and works in Berlin since 2001. He is (or has been) a regular contributor to the magazines l’architecture d’aujourd’hui, artpress, il giornale dell’architettura, particules, fucking good art, frieze d/e, published texts in catalogues and directed two special issues of artpress, one about Berlin and another on art & prostitution. He curated among others the exhibitions «investigating evp» (Resonance Fm, London 2006), «Weniger Geld, mehr Liebe» (tmp-deluxe, Berlin 2008), «The last ten shots» (Bongout, Berlin 2008), «Wach sind nur die Geister» (hmkv, Dortmund 2009 & coca, torun 2010), «Nam June Paik Award 2010» (Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf 2010) & «Nam June Paik Award 2012» (Kunstmuseum, Bochum 2012), «ghosts off the shelf» (Kunstraum Kreuzberg / Bethanien – ctm-festival, Berlin 2012), «The empty house» (museum angewandte kunst, Frankfurt/Main 2013), «INDUSTRIAL (research)» (hmkv, Dortmund 2013), «BER-DTM-HNL…» (hmkv, dortmund 2014), «Richard Meier – ein Stilraum» (Museum Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt/Main 2015), «artificial intelligence (digitale demenz)» (eigen+art lab, berlin 2015) and «(art) upside down» (Aluan, Almaty 2015). His latest projects are a travelling exhibition for Goethe-Institut in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, «Die Grenze» (mmoma, Moscow 2017 – artplay, Saint Petersburg 2017 and the Krasnoyarsk Museum Center, Krasnoyarsk 2017) while is exhibition «A song for Europe» was presented at the v&a, London 2017. He is, since 2007, a member of the aica-france.
I hate modernity
At the beginning of the 21st Century, the terms «modern» and «modernity» don’t mean much anymore. «Modern» has been used in so many different contexts during the last 100 years: it has become an adjective for commercials, it meant fashionable in the 1980s (think of the TV-series Miami Vice) and it defines an obscure lifestyle (like modernist cuisine) that has not much in common with the ideology of the 1920s. Nowadays, some people use it to define a style based on white volumes, classy minimalism and pure proportions while others make a philosophical concept out of it. In the end, when I use the word «modern» in a conversation, there are not many chances that the people around the table use it the same way and understand what I really mean. What does it mean to be truly modern? Why is (post-)modernity the new trend in architecture? Are petty bourgeois the true new moderns?
The goal of the workshop will be to share definitions of modernity amongst the participants, to criticize the results and, maybe, create a new meaning of the term.
Daniel Talesnik is a trained architect specializing in modern and contemporary architecture and urbanism, with a particular focus on architectural pedagogy and relationships between architecture and political ideologies. He was awarded a PhD by Columbia University in 2016 with the dissertation “The Itinerant Red Bauhaus, or the Third Emigration”. He has published articles, interviews and book chapters. Daniel has taught studio and history / theory courses at Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Preservation, and Planning and at the School of Architecture at the Universidad Católica of Chile. In 2016–2017 he was a full-time Visiting Assistant Professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Since September 2017 he is an Assistant Professor and Curator at the Museum of Architecture of the Technische Universität München.
From Dessau to Moscow: Hannes Meyer and a Bauhaus Crew go East
In April 1927, Meyer started teaching at the Bauhaus, and the following year he succeeded Gropius as director of the school. Meyer changed the interests of the Bauhaus, and although there were several continuations from the tenure of Gropius, the school underwent several structural transformations. Meyer was expelled from the directorship and the Bauhaus in August 1930 on political grounds, and in reaction to this he moved to the Soviet Union with a brigade of Bauhaus students. Although Meyer and this brigade worked together only for a brief period, their migration is exemplary of a broader movement of foreign architects in the 1930s. In this presentation, using Meyer and the Bauhaus as a lens, I will address the topics of modernity, modernization and modernism—including a detailed explanation on how the several Bauhaus workshops worked in the project for the ADGB Trade Union School in Bernau near Berlin—and how these categories shifted once they started working in the Soviet Union.
Yuval Yasky & Yamit Cohen
Yamit Cohen is an architect and researcher in the History and Philosophy of Sciences and Ideas based in Tel Aviv. She is an adjunct lecturer at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, and a Partner at Yasky Architects in Tel Aviv.
Yuval Yasky is an architect, researcher and curator based in Tel Aviv. In the last 8 years he served as Chair of the Architecture Department at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem. His research on the planning and Architecture of the Kibbutz was presented at various venues including the Venice Architecture Biennale, the Bauhaus Foundation in Dessau and more.
Yamit Cohen and Yuval Yasky are both Partners at Yasky Architects where they develop new ways of thinking and designing collective environments at various scales, from whole neighborhoods to individual housing projects. Their work is based on their interest in the questions about the role of the public sphere in an era of increased social segregation.Their research and projects reflect on the possibility of design in multiple scales to overcome this segregation and create spaces of communal activity, in this sense they use the Kibbutz as it evolved over many decades as a possible model for future development, not only in the contemporary Kibbutzim but in other urban environments. In their practice they focus on revitalization plans for Kibbutzim, starting with the whole settlement, and going down to the scale of different elements of the Kibbutz, all the way to reuse of individual buildings. Through their work they have developed new methodologies of community participation and activation which has become central to their work.
Since the end of the first decade of the 20th century, the Kibbutz have evolved as a settlement pattern in which the physical planning functionally reflects ideologies and life-practices of collectivity and equality. In the last three decades, the Kibbutzim have been stripped from their constitutive ideology and most of them have turned into privatized sub-urban settlements. What is the place of the communal social space in the Kibbutzim undergoing privatization processes of the collective territory? What is the possible need, quality and character of these communal spaces within the contemporary concrete social reality? In our lecture we shall discuss those questions through our work in the Kibbutzim in our attempts to reload the existing dysfunctional spaces with new potentials.