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Daria Sorokina: From Moscow to Dessau

On Bauhaus, VKHUTEMAS, and architecture of constructivism
Daria Sorokina: From Moscow to Dessau

The German Bauhaus and the Soviet VKHUTEMAS are the schools that were among the most prominent phenomena in design and architecture of the 20th century. In 2019-2020, they celebrate their centennial anniversaries. These institutions played a key role in the emergence of professional design, development of Soviet avant-garde, and formation of new educational methods. We talked about these two strongest design schools, the architecture of constructivism, and intercultural communication with Daria Sorokina, an art historian and specialist in Russian avant-garde. For many years already, she has been giving tours of Moscow telling people about the features of Soviet architecture as well. Today, Ms. Sorokina is a guide at Bauhaus school located in the German city of Dessau.

Дарья-Сорокина_T.jpg Daria Sorokina
art historian, guide at the Bauhaus School of Design (Dessau), specialist in Russian avant-garde

Daria Sorokina is an engineer by first education. She graduated from the Kazan State Technical University named after A.N. Tupolev. However, Ms. Sorokina understood very soon that she was attracted by art and chose another profession. She was trained as an art historian at the Russian State Humanitarian University. Even before entering that university, she liked to give tours of Moscow. During her studies, Daria Sorokina understood that she was interested in the art of Soviet avant-garde. The Narkomfin Building, a live monument of the architecture of constructivism, became one of her favourite sights. 

Later she underwent Design Study master’s programme at Bauhaus School of Design. After graduation, she became a guide at that world-famous institution. 


Architecture of Constructivism 

Daria Sorokina’s first acquaintance with the architecture was her personal experience. For some time, she lived in a constructivist house. She liked the comfort of that space. Ms. Sorokina started paying more attention to detail and decided to study this architectural branch. 

It is interesting that Soviet artists and architects proposed the term ‘constructivism’. The first followers of this movement called upon people to abandon art for the sake of art saying that it was designed for creation of useful things and must serve production. They defined ‘communistic expression of material values’ as the task of the new architecture. 

According to Daria Sorokina, it is difficult to love buildings in the state that the majority of them has now. However, it is important what senses were put into them by builders. 

Ms. Sorokina is acquainted with Russian and German avant-garde architectures well. It is interesting for her to find similarities and differences between them.


Bauhaus and VKHUTEMAS 

The German Bauhaus and the Soviet VKHUTEMAS emerged in 1919 and 1920. That is why people like to compare them. Daria Sorokina considers that the main difficulty. Despite the schools had emerged and developed in one period, each of them has a unique multi-layered structure. 

Bauhaus and VKHUTEMAS had identical courses and fields of study. At the same time, they were located in countries with different political and social context. 

About 100 people per year underwent studies at Bauhaus. The annual amount of students of VKHUTEMAS was over 1000 people. The country’s educational system was much influenced by the revolution. Artistic and technical workshops accepted all those wishing to study even despite the fact that many students almost could not read and count. 

The uniqueness of VKHUTEMAS lied in the fact that both classical and avant-garde architects coexisted within it. Those were highly trained specialists. Their task was to bring up a whole generation of artists out of minimally prepared people.


Art and Design: Unification and Identity 

Today, Bauhaus serves the basis for a number of international projects. Dessau attracts many experts from different countries who share their practices, experience, and ideas. This activity is a bright evidence of the unifying power of art. 

The world becomes borderless and mote open in the context of hi-tech development. This makes it possible for people to exchange ideas quickly, interact, and improve their products and artworks. 


At the same time, artworks created in different countries at different times can be very different from one another. That concerns design as well. Daria Sorokina referred to the example of posters and signs. In Western countries, they are more strict and accurate. In Eastern countries, they are chaotic and catchy. Sometimes the signs in public places can help you understand in what part of the world you are without knowing the name of the country. 

On the one hand, art and design have unifying power. On the other hand, they help similar objects acquire their distinctive features. That makes the space around us more interesting. 

Bauhaus is a famous and renowned brand worldwide. One can see houses constructed in the aesthetics of this school in different countries. Thus, Bauhaus united the world and preserved its own identity. 


Establishing Intercultural Communication 

As no one else, Daria Sorokina can estimate the role of establishing intercultural communication. She lived in Russia and now lives in Germany. Due to specificity of her profession, Ms. Sorokina immersed in the history and culture of these two countries. 

“When visiting my homeland, I notice that Russia carries out major work on popularisation of the cultural heritage of Bauhaus. It seems that Moscow hosted more festivals, exhibitions, and lectures dated to the 100th anniversary of Bauhaus than Dessau. It is very pleasant because I see Germany’s interest in VKHUTEMAS as well”, says Daria Sorokina. 

The guide not only enjoys telling the visitors about Bauhaus but also shares her knowledge about Russian and Soviet culture. When visiting Moscow, Ms. Sorokina delivers lectures about Bauhaus School of Design. 

Art is a whole life for Daria Sorokina. She constantly strives to learn something new and develop professionally to further share her knowledge with people around. “It is important for me to let the information pass through myself and present it in a way interesting for my listeners. 

Art helps people develop and makes their lives more interesting”, she believes. The main thing is to ensure that people themselves want to immerse in art history and cognition of the beautiful. One of the tasks of a guide is to motivate them to do that. 

Viktoria Yezhova,
Global Women Media news agency

Translated by Nikolay Gavrilov

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