Thursday, August 03, 2006


Day tripped to Dessau since it is a UNESCO WHS (together with Weimar, remember? because it is the site of the Bahaus school of architecture) today. Dessau is an eerily quiet city, for a minute there I had to double check to make sure I hadn't suddenly lost my hearing, for I was downtown at 11 a.m. and could hear NO cars, the people were walking by silently, without greeting or talking to each other, even in the marketplace.

As I further walked along this town I also started noticing that people do not smile here, and the natural/default expressions are not neutral but actual frowns. There are no unruly laughing toddlers or teenage skateboarders noisily jumping and invading the sidewalks, most people are over the age of 70, and I'm getting some really bad vibes about this place. Glad I don't have to spend the night here.

Anyway, I visited the Bauhaus buildings. While I wouldn't really say I like Bauhaus style architecture (it has some nice features, like these windows, but it is otherwise too boxy and plain and reminds me a lot of Mexican public school architecture--"Escuela Secundaria Tecnica" style or even "UAG" style--which if you know what I'm talking about is ugly architecture indeed), but I think it is neat that finally some modern stuff is protected as World Heritage (good to protect old Gothic churches, but humanity's modern heritage should be protected for posterity also!).

Unfortunately, a good chunk of the Dessau Bauhaus Meisterhäuser (the houses where the Bauhaus Masters lived, like painters Klee Kandinsky and Feininger, musician Kurt Weil, architect Walter Gropius, etc) are mostly rebuilt (they were destroyed in the War), so the UNESCO here is protecting something that is not original. A copy, if you will. That, I am not too happy with. Still, it is probably in the "spirit" of Bauhaus, right? What with all the quick built, prefab, all-houses-look-alike-like-shoeboxes-put-together-except-every-second-one-of-them-rotated-by-90-degrees-so-the-repetition-isn't-as-obvious-one-house-could-stand-for-another-including-a-reconstruction Bauhaus style?

Anyway, to give you an idea of what I'm talking about, these Meisterhäuser are very utilitarian, all have low ceilings, little furniture, drab colors, would be o.k. for a student dorm, but I can't imagine artists like Klee/Kandinsky/Weil being happy here. Or maybe the companionship and college-like atmosphere made up for it, I don't know. Or with nothing to feast their eyes on (drab white and black walls), they were therefore forced to create in their works from the imagination. Granted, these houses do inspire a very healthy work ethic, I would think (i.e. no pleasant distractions). I wouldn't want to raise kids here, though.

Bauhaus architecture, though, gotta hand it to them, does know how to do windows right. A lot of light does come into the buildings. Too bad with the low ceilings and drab colors inside then the light has nowhere left to go!

Anyway, tonight coming back to Leipzig while strolling along Grimmaische Strasse I had a stunning revelation! With so much music, literature, and history, I don't care what Dalí says, it is not in Perpignan, Leipzig.

Yup. That's right. And I haven't even been to Berlin yet. ;D


Anonymous said...

The people are frowning because as a UNESCO site everyone must furnish his living room with those Garret Rietveld chairs. You'd be grumpy too.

Elisa said...

Ha ha. Yeah, those chairs sure look uncomfortable. ;)