A true Bauhaus gem: the founders Holger Friese and Renske Janssen talk about the International Summer School Bernau

Located just outside Berlin is a true Bauhaus gem: the Bauhaus Trade Union School, designed in 1928–1930 by then Bauhaus Dessau Director Hannes Meyer, along with architect Hans Wittwer and his students. This historic landmark building serves as the setting for the International Summer School Bernau, held from August 7 – 21, 2016.
ARTPRESS spoke to the founders of the International Summer School Bernau: artist and designer Holger Friese and art historian Renske Janssen.

Bauhaus Denkmal Bundesschule Bernau Photo credit: Holger Friese
Bauhaus Denkmal Bundesschule Bernau. Photo credit: Holger Friese

How did the idea for the International Summer School come about?

I was lucky to be able to move in 2010 with my family to one of the four teachers’ houses at the former Trade union school. Immediately then I was struck by the lack of visibility of this building and its 1920s original intent: making students/ young professionals aware of themselves while spending time in the building and to offer them a platform for sensibility and exchange with others. The idea to work on a program and concept to bring back the spirit of the Bauhaus schooling came into work when I spoke with Renske about teaching in this context. She has experience in guiding young artists as a freelancer, for example at ‘de Ateliers Foundation’ in Amsterdam. We decided we needed a concept or a certain ‘umbrella’, to combine today’s social realism with the functional approach of Bauhaus’ heritage.

Bauhaus Denkmal Bundesschule Bernau Fensterfront Aufgang zu den Seminarräumen Windows staircase to the seminar rooms Photo credit: Udo Wilke / archive bbb
Bauhaus Denkmal Bundesschule Bernau, Windows staircase to the seminar rooms. Photo credit: Udo Wilke / archive bbb

Whom is the International Summer School designed for? What can the participants expect?

We aim our school at all people who show interest and want to join to develop or revive their professional practice. So far art and design students are showing interest in our summer school, as well as young professionals that have finished their traditional art education. They obviously need the lively exchange of their peers and wish to meet professionals that guide them anew as temporary ‘mentors’ or ‘teachers’. Life and work is of course a continuous process of learning and exchanging. Sharing and find like-minded people are also important motives. We actually see teachers and students not in a traditional division. Both parties bring in their own particular knowledge and can learn from each other. They are all participants in a way but of course have a few years more experience in the field. We only invite artists, designers or curators who understand this. Obviously, this kind of exchange asks a certain mentality of people, non-judgmental and willing, and creative people tend to own these senses.
The participants of the summer school 2016 can expect expertise and will find themselves in a safe environment to enjoy themselves and to learn what they wish for.

Bauhaus Denkmal Bundesschule Bernau Sporthalle / Gymnasium Photo credit: Holger Friese
Bauhaus Denkmal Bundesschule Bernau, Sporthalle / Gymnasium. Photo credit: Holger Friese

The theme for the program is “UNIVERSALISM”. Can you tell us a bit about the concept?

Yes, the theme came into being because we were looking for a single word that could cover a dynamic that is felt when looking at developments in art and design and at the ecological and aesthetic needs of our time. These needs are, in a way, universal because they are basic human needs: people want to feel safe by surrounding themselves with aesthetic objects and now the natural step is to find a way, like relating in a peaceful way to another human being, how we treat natural resources without exploiting and wasting them, and how we need to express our inner worlds. HOW we do it and with what tools that is personal. So it is always about the dynamic between the universal and personal.


UNIVERSALISM  International Summer School 2016 Bauhaus Denkmal Bundesschule Bernau
UNIVERSALISM International Summer School 2016, Bauhaus Denkmal Bundesschule Bernau

Interview: Laura Kuthan

Leave a Reply