Film

  • Fields of Neutrality: The Last Interview with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
  • GRANTEE
    Dani Gal
    GRANT YEAR
    2019

A caricature mocking Mies drawn by communist students, 1932, in Bauhaus Berlin (Berlin: Weingarten, 1985).

Commissioned on the occasion of the Bauhaus centennial, this staged television-style interview with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe depicts the architect late in his life, confronted with his time as the final Bauhaus director, and his refusal to take a political stance amid pressure from the newly established Nazi government and communist students. The interview is conducted in the Mies-designed New National Gallery, Berlin—arranged to coincide with the construction site visit in advance of the 1968 opening, which marked the completion of the final building before his death in 1969. The interviewer confronts Mies about his unwillingness to take a political position amid pressure both from communist students and the newly established Nazi government. Focusing on the events that led to the closure of the Bauhaus by the Gestapo in 1933, including Mies's meeting with Alfred Rosenberg, his meeting with a young Gestapo officer in an attempt to keep the Bauhaus open under the Nazi regime, and his interest to continue his practice in Germany, the film questions cultural notions of modern architecture as an aesthetic reflection of progressive humanistic values. By examining the nature of the relationship between Mies and the Nazis, insight is gained not only into the climate of the last days of the Bauhaus and its clash with fascist forces, but also into historic and contemporary principles of morality. Within the contemporary context of the renovation of the New National Gallery, the site of this film serves not only as a historical site, but also as a metaphor for deconstructing Mies as a historical figure, highlighting the dissonance between the architect’s famous clarity and precision and the moral vagueness of his opinions. Given the global issue of polarizing political climates and attacks on human rights today around the world, it is important to tell the story of Mies van der Rohe and the end of Bauhaus.

Dani Gal lives and works in Berlin. He studied at the Bezalel Academy for Art and Design in Jerusalem; Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste Städelschule in Frankfurt; and The Cooper Union in New York. His films and works have been shown widely, including: 54th Venice Biennale (2011), The Istanbul Biennale (2011), New Museum New York (2012), Kunsthalle St. Gallen Switzerland (2013), The Jewish Museum New York (2014), Berlinale Forum Expanded (2014), Kunsthaus Zurich (2015) Kunsthalle Wien (2015), Documenta 14 (2017), and FRONT International Cleveland (2018).