Barbara Visser – From Expressionism to Modernism to the Prism: The Fourth Wall in Bauhaus Architecture

Couse August 15 – 20, 2016

This course developed by Barbara Visser will focus on the role of glass architecture and light and color in the photographic and cinematographic narrative. Participants are invited to work on a two- or three-dimensional project using the building and its surroundings as a stage.

Bauhaus literally means “construction house.” In the ideological framework of the Bauhaus, the aesthetic choices of our surroundings—exterior and interior—are regarded as the backdrop for our mental state: our wellbeing, emotions, and the quality of life and work depend on how comfortable we feel both physically and psychologically.

The architecture of the school serves both as a monument for a specific view on the world as well as the “fourth wall”—the imaginary border between the stage and the audience in a theatre. Here, the aim is to use light, color, and transparency in a more direct but also a more figurative way: these terms can also refer to human perception and feelings. Merging these with the participant’s own specific interests and narratives, they function as building blocks for the narrative that interests them.

Parallel to individual research and experiments by the participants, a number of examples from different areas of the arts, such as installation art, architecture, printed matter, photography and film, will be shown and discussed.


Barbara Visser (Haarlem, The Netherlands 1966) studied at the Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht, Cooper Union in New York, and the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. Visser exhibits internationally and serves on numerous boards, juries, and committees. In 2014, she was appointed chair of the Academy of Arts/ KNAW (Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences).

In the majority of her projects, produced as photography, film, print, text, or performance, Visser addresses the uncertain relationship between registration and dramatization, plays with notions of original and copy, and questions the way history and memory are shaped by both the individual and society. Dissecting various strategies to influence our collective memory, our biographies and behavior, her works challenge conventions, readymade interpretations, and clichés.

Firmly grounded in a conceptual approach, the look of many of her works changes according to time, place, and context. As a result, the projects can be regarded as multilayered stories or threads, rather than symbolic pieces or statements.

Visser has won numerous awards including the Dutch Cultural Media Fund Documentary Award (2010), the dr. A. H. Heineken Award (2008), and the Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart Preis (2000).
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