“I can do this!”

Interview with the Bauhaus Agent Tullia Tarsia in Curia

How does one communicate Bauhaus themes to children and young people? Bauhaus agents are working in Berlin, Weimar and Dessau to answer that question – thereby helping to shape the new Bauhaus museums. After defining highly successful and unconventional communication methods and museum design in Weimar, they are now preparing for the openings in Dessau and Berlin. So it is the perfect moment to talk to one of the agents: Tullia Tarsia in Curia describes her work, her experiences and the pleasure of joining young people on part of their journey.

Paulin Berg
Tullia Tarsia in Curia, Bauhaus Agenten Jahreskonferenz #3

Ms Tarsia in Curia, why is it so important today that children and young people engage with art and culture?

I can answer that by quoting Friedrich Schiller: “Art is a daughter of freedom!”

What contribution can agents make to ensure that the “daughter of freedom” is preserved and appreciated?

We wish to open up new ways of accessing art and culture. With the Bauhaus Agents Programme, we have the opportunity to experiment with things – for instance in organising our own school vernissage for the grand Bauhaus anniversary exhibition, entitled original bauhaus, which will open at the Berlinische Galerie in September 2019. We agents don’t do that alone. We collaborate with students, teachers, artists and colleagues.

How must we communicate art today to inspire young people, get them excited about it and make them curious? What do young people need in a museum or an art project?

There is no general answer to that. The Bauhaus Agents Programme tries to find a new answers to that question in every project.

Can you give us a few concrete examples of your work?

One project is the “Bauhaus Curriculum” at the Walter Gropius School: a collection of Bauhaus learning cards developed together with students, teachers and the artist Doro Petersen. I’ve also worked with students at the Otto Nagel Secondary School and the designer Rose Epple, using signs and posters to develop a school wayfinding system to improve orientation.

Bauhaus Agenten Bauhaus Curriculum 2017
Catrin Schmitt
Bauhaus Agenten Bauhaus Curriculum 2017

Which projects are planned for the rest of 2019 and 2020?

For the anniversary exhibition original bauhaus, I’m working with partner schools in planning a students’ vernissage that takes their wishes and ideas into account. I’m also working with artists and instructors to develop several workshops, for instance on textile design and also game design, thereby making the Bauhaus Agents Programme accessible to students. I also supervise the “Young Bauhaus” group, which worked together with the curator Nina Wiedemeyer on the exhibition. We’re currently planning a podcast with them.

So diversity is part of the agents programme. Do you nevertheless have a goal that connects all the projects?

Yes. I wish to initiate collaborative work that enables the exchange of knowledge and allows people to change themselves.

Was there a moment in your work when you realised you’ve achieved that aim? Perhaps a special encounter or a course?

Yes! During the project “Audio Walk. Growing Up Gropius”. We cooperated with a music class at the Walter Gropius School, together with a music teacher and the sound artist Alexandre Decoupigny to develop an audio tour that took us around the school’s neighbourhood, as well as through the Gropiusstadt district. The students produced pieces of music, wrote the texts themselves and recorded them. What moved me most was when I heard that one of the students, who was one of the speakers on the recordings, intended to work as a professional broadcaster. In a way, by interacting with art, he found a goal for his future life. That was very exciting for me.

So it’s about finding yourself through art and experiencing yourself and others in a completely different way?

Yes, partly. The projects are aimed at inspiring something in the students. We don’t say: “You can do it!”. We give them the chance to say: “I can do this!”  

Is there a format that especially inspires students?

In my experience, what goes down well is direct dialogue with artists: whenever students have first-hand experience of how much work is needed to produce art and how it’s produced. That creates a direct connection to the theme, going beyond exercise books, exams and art class. It’s open. They react to that very strongly and find it exciting. And if they take that experience with them into everyday life, we’ve achieved something.

Bauhaus Agenten bauhaus_werkstatt im temporary bauhaus-archiv in Berlin
Catrin Schmitt
Bauhaus Agenten bauhaus_werkstatt im temporary bauhaus-archiv in Berlin

Does it depend on the schools’ and students’ affinity to the arts?

We operate in schools in completely different locations. We approach every school with a completely open mind. It doesn’t depend on the district you live in. It’s the people, the teachers at the schools that make the difference. The way they work, how they interact with students, is more important than everything else. How much time they can and want to invest.

Do students at the schools even know about the Bauhaus?

We work with the same teachers almost every year, but not with the same students. So every time is a fresh start in trying to anchor the theme of the Bauhaus. It’s not always easy to make the theme accessible to them. Our approach is to present the Bauhaus history and derive contemporary themes out of it, which are relevant to students today. In 2020, a teaching pool will go online, the “Bauhaus Box”, which will compile the agent projects in Dessau, Weimar and Berlin. Instead of limiting Bauhaus projects to the fields of art and culture, they could for instance seek ways to integrate Bauhaus principles into maths lessons. Or find ways in which science classes could benefit from the Bauhaus.

Could you describe your work using three terms?

A high degree of creativity, diplomacy and organisational talent. And Utopia must also be involved.

Thank you for talking to us, Ms Tarsia in Curia.

Information: www.bauhausagenten.de

    [TF 2019; Translation TBR]

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