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Neujahrsvorsätze/ New Year’s Resolutions

How Together – Alexander Römer

01.01.2021 ⋅ von Burg Hülshoff


It’s a sunny morning again. It’s luckily always sunny when
a project starts. Sunny, but dusty. It is in the middle of
a construction site. Participants have just met the day
before. Just the time to share a name, a full background
in ten words, a reason to be here. Maybe they had time to
exchange on their vision, their ambition, before they go into
the unknown. They certainly know what experience they
want to have. At least, they have an idea of what to expect.
And that is revealed, while they are, on that very first morning,
in front of the wall. It’s time to choose. In front of them,
a giant table drawn on a wall will become crucial for the rest
of the week. Their choice, at that moment will turn them
into cooks, carpenters, singers or designers, at least for the
next couple of days. The first ones get served, the next ones

Soon enough, that choice that was so hard to make—Shall
I stay with the new friends I met yesterday or shall I stick to
what I wanted before?—will no longer matter. Soon enough,
participants understand that there is more than just one
decision. The energy is common. All are part of a bigger
project—whether it is to build a mountain, a mill, a swimming
pool, a city island, a metavilla or an arch—with a bigger
ambition than one’s own, and all the pieces gathered here
are essential for it to work. There the participants choose
their level of engagement: some will choose to only help,
others will choose to help and learn—and then maybe help
and learn close to somebody else, by doing something else.
Nobody needs to feel alone in his/her field. While exchanging,
they get the help they want or need. It’s only a couple of
days, the task is clear, the goal is known, the engagement
voluntary. Even when it is about building six hundred pieces
of the same part, it never lasts very long.

Again that time of the choice on the wall. The groups were
made. Today, they dissolve again, and mingle another way.
So, what this time? Do they choose something they already
know? Or do they try something new? As in the Bauhaus
preliminary course, the collaborative workshops give a
glimpse of it all and a lesson for life. Beyond each discipline
—wood working, graphics, video, furniture making, cooking,
performing, everything—a master is in charge of the new
group. Sometimes a new workshop is made; sometimes a
58 participant becomes a master. Because sometimes, something
is missing. The teaching starts again as an exquisite
cadaver. One starts to work where somebody else’s work
ended. Meanwhile, in the cooking workshop, the one that
sustains the group, everything starts afresh everyday.

They come willing to learn a skill and gain experience. In
fact, what they learn is intangible. They learn to become
part of a group, they learn to negotiate with others, they
learn to position themselves in a micro-society, they learn
they can do crazy things, together. They learn to exchange
and they exchange through experimentation, through
making. Sometimes they reenact what they learn by talking
to each other, and for that they also have the evenings, the
dinners, the nights or the breakfasts. It is practical and theoretical,
empirical and poetical. It’s special. Within the strong
pedagogical methodology made up of rhythms, disciplines
and missions, participants learn to negotiate freedom.
There, they do not just experiment through collaborative
work. They feel it. They get it. They come back again.