We were different in the fifties

January 24th, 2015, 11am

You could see them everywhere. Schools, town halls, sports halls and even private residences were adorned with these faux Bauhaus banalities. The feature challenged manikins were often shown doing science or agriculture, they seemed to manage factories, raise families, care for the afflicted. And sports. Man, were they into sports. Track and field, mostly. And gymnastics. They really loved that stuff. Though it was pretty obvious what they were doing up there, I can remember wondering what it all really meant, even as a child. A sports hall was a sports hall, no need to indicate it by manikins in endless competition on the outside, or was there? On the other hand - what exactly were faceless farmers up to on the walls of a town house which had clearly nothing in common with a farm?

Today I know these were deeply compromised half breeds, lost somewhere between Oskar Schlemmer’s Triadisches Ballett and Otl Aicher’s pictograms. They were also the Western equivalent of the tedious propaganda the other Germany couldn’t get enough of at the time.

I guess I was right to distrust them as a boy.

David Wade and Christine said thanks.

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Marcus Hammerschmitt

Writer, journalist and photographer. Eighteen books so far, on paper and on screen. My biography is boring, my life is not.

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