Gestalt Programme Launching Event

by Ishrat Hyatt
International The News, October 22, 2011, City News, p. 19

ISLAMABAD. The Ambassador of Switzerland and Mrs Regula Bubb hosted a function to mark the opening lecture of the Gestalt Educational Programme, which is being supported by the embassies of Switzerland and Germany.
The series of fifteen educational lectures, training sessions and workshops by Argentinean artist, Mariano Akerman architect and historian, Summa cum Laude, has been conceived especially for Pakistani audiences. Focusing on the Swiss-German contribution in the fields of theory and design, it aims at sharing experience and reconsidering the interplay between tradition and modernisation, over 2,500 students have been invited to participate from educational institutions around Islamabad and Rawalpindi.
Ambassadors Bubb and Koch, with the lecturer
After invitees representing the arts had arrived and were seated, the host welcomed them and said he and his wife were delighted to host the event which would showcase the artistic achievements of the great artists from his country as well as neighbouring Germany. He thanked the ambassador of Germany, Dr Michael Koch, for his help and collaboration and said it was so readily forthcoming that he was tempted to ask for it more often. With a few words about the Gestalt programme, he thanked the speaker for his contribution and asked him to take the floor.
Lectures by Mariano Akerman are never boring and you can listen to him for more than the usual length of time even though the subject may not be your cup of tea. His talks combine facts and figures with touches of humour and just a little spice in the form of taking a dig at people and places—in the nicest manner—thrown in for good measure, much to the delight of the audience. The students who attend his series in connection with the Gestalt programme will enjoy his style, probably compare it with that of others and generally come away with a greater understanding of the subject under discussion since he encourages his listeners' participation.
Mariano began by saying he had been in Pakistan for five years because he had a passion for art and because he has been inspired by the interest Pakistanis display in his artistic activities. "When people in Argentina ask when I am coming home, I reply home is here," he said. "Because I feel at home among my friends."
Mariano Akerman: Bridging Cultures
With a slide show to emphasise the points he made, Mariano began by speaking of European art of the 20th century, in particular the period of the Weimar Republic from 1918-1933; its ups and downs especially the economic downside between 1921-23 and the golden years from 1924-29 when there was a switch towards change of accepted norms and practises. It was interesting to hear and see the comparisons he made and how he explained what modern art was all about [...].
In a statement, Mariano says that the Gestalt theory and Bauhaus design are two of the important themes to be explored in this cycle of fifteen lectures, training sessions and workshops. Figure and ground, chance and intention, form and function, the rational and the irrational, repression and expression are discussed [in the Program], which reconsiders the modern idea of form and function integrated in a single, effective whole.
Yet, significantly, close observation may reveal that modernity is not only based on functionality and common sense, as it may present surprises too. Besides, is ornament a crime? Tradition has often associated it with identity. Can abstraction and mass-produced fabrications provide it? And what is the common raison d'être supporting the work of German-Swiss creators so diverse as Walter Gropius, Arp, Alberto Giacometti, Le Corbusier, Meret Oppenheim, Mies van der Rohe, Johannes Itten, Paul Klee, and Max Ernst?
A possible answer is that it was precisely around the 1920s that such inventive creators provided us with the best of Modern Art. Following their example and being characterised by its experimental nature and full-of-prizes collage contest, The Gestalt Programme aims to open a window towards the achievements of geographically and historically distant cultures, stimulating local productivity and inventiveness, without rejecting ancestral traditions.

Ishrat Hyatt, "Gestalt Educational Programme: Swiss Envoy hosts Opening Function," International The News, 22.10.2011, City News, p. 19
GESTALT, from the German term gestellt, "put together." According to the Theory of Perceptual Organization, our mind is holistic.

Additional Resources
Islamabad, German Embassy in Islamabad, Integrated Whole, Experimentation and Identity, Gestalt: Theory and Design in the New Objectivity Age, 25.10.2011
Islamabad, Deutsche Auslandsvertretungen in Pakistan, Integriertes Ganzes, Experimentieren und Identität, Gestalt: Theorie und Gestaltung im Zeitalter der neuen Sachlichkeit, 28.10.2011
The Gestalt Program
Programa Educativo Gestalt
Sara Mahmood, Mariano Akerman: Bridging Cultures, 28.9.2011
"The Ambassador of Switzerland ... held Reception Lecture of the Gestalt Educational Program held by Architect Mariano Akerman," Diplomatic Focus, Pakistan, Vol. II, Issue 8-9, October-November 2011, p. 70, photographs by Shabbir Hussain.
Almas Haider Naqvi, "Other is the Same Side of the Picture," Dataline Islamabad, 22 October 2011, p. 4
Almas Haider Naqvi, "Other is the Same Side of the Picture," Dataline Islamabad, 22 October 2011, p. 4
Maqbool Malik, "Tradition meets Modernisation," The Nation, Pakistan, 24 October 2011: "Mariano Akerman, an Argentinean national by origin, made an exciting presentation to put across his ideas and knowledge about [the] Gestalt Programme, and [...] amused the audience with humour to make the otherwise boring stuff lighter to digest including art lovers and students."
Gauhar Zahid Malik, Embassies of Switzerland and Germany present 'Gestalt': Theory and Design in the Age of New Objectivity, Fifteen Educational Lectures by Mariano Akerman, Architect and Art Historian, Pakistan Observer, Twin Cities, 3 November 2011, p. 9
Ilona Yusuf, Enhancing Perception: The Gestalt Lectures and Collage Competition, Blue Chip Magazine, Issue 87, Volume 8, Islamabad, January-February 2012, pp. 16-19, ill.
Sara Mahmood, Mariano Akerman: Bridging Cultures, Blue Chip Magazine, Issue 87, Volume 8, Islamabad, January-February 2012, pp. 20-24, ill.

Swiss Envoy hosts Opening Function

Swiss Ambassador Michael Bubb, Art Historian Mariano Akerman, and German Ambassador Koch
Launching of the Gestalt Educational Program
Swiss Residence, Islamabad, 20.10.2011
Photograph courtesy of Shabbir Hussain


Nicolas Plattner said...

The Gestalt series of lectures by Mariano Akerman is an opportunity to bring a most significant European movement closer to the Pakistani audience. Indeed, experimentation and new objectivity are concepts which have shape European modern cultural identity. As always, Mariano Akerman's formidable knowledge of the art and his exceptional ability to captivate a wide audience will be beneficial for students and teachers alike, bringing the Gestalt closer to their own reality. The message conveyed by Klee, Le Corbusier, Arp, and other prominent artists and architects who have animated the Gestalt and Bauhaus is very much actual in today’s world. —Nicolas Plattner, The Swiss Embassy, Islamabad

Joan Pohl said...


Lynley Ruth Butt said...

Dear Mariano, I don't feel that the Gestalt Program is about "distant" cultures since you bring a sense of how some things keep going on ahead, despite and because of the darkest and worst of times, together with a sense of your own mission here—of promoting what is useful and good with reassurances about the capacity and predominance of the human holistic mind, to fill in the missing contextual gaps and links and look to the overall meaningfulness of the larger picture.
During the launching lecture of the Gestalt Program people felt you made history come alive for them and made it feel relevant with your exposition on the life of the two schools, Gestalt and Bauhaus, their personnel, ideology and implementations that impacted not only Europe but the world. And they loved your "style" of delivery and the images you put together, they listened, they looked and were held by it all. And found it well, considered and amusingly presented by you, and interesting, stimulating and thought provoking for them, I'm sure. Well done!

María Teresa Papaianni said...

¡Qué bueno Mariano! ¡Mira mi compañerito! Me alegro que te pasen cosas lindas y espero que te sientas muy feliz. Besote, TERE

Débora Siskin said...


Shazieh Gorji said...

Thoroughly enjoyed the lecture. It was wonderful.

Marlene Lievendag said...


Silvia Weisz said...

¡Y vamos todavía!

Caroline Austin said...

Thanks Mariano. It's lovely to read. Well Done!

Jorge Bozzano said...

Felicitaciones Mariano. Qué lindas noticias. Un abrazo, Jorge

Joan Pohl said...

I think it was probably the best lecture I have heard and see you do. You were right on form; able to blend your knowledge of the subject with great visual presentation, humour to those of us who perhaps didn't know anything about Gestalt.
Your ability to combine, connect, integrate and transfer knowledge to the audience goes way beyond what many professors could do.

Sabtain Kahn said...

A fabulous achievement.

Nicolas Plattner said...

Dear Mariano,
The event was indeed a success.
Best regards,
Nicolas Plattner

Rabiya Qadir said...

Great lecture. I enjoyed it a lot. It was very informative!

Ambassador Christoph Bubb said...

Dear Mariano, thank you. I agree the evening was a great success, primarily thanks to your competent, well structured presentation. The holistic approach and the humorous elements contributed to a fascinating learning experience.
With kind regards and my best wishes for the series.
Christoph Bubb
Embassy of Switzerland, Islamabad

Lioubov Fedotova said...

Dear Mariano. I want to thank you for the wonderful lecture you gave last Thursday. You were brilliant and it is amazing how many things you know. Thank you for sharing this with us: I enjoyed it so much. I would like to participate in more of you lectures.
I am sure you'll have a huge success. Good luck! Kind regards, Liuba

Hanniya Abid said...

It was a wonderful lecture, Mariano. All the best with the Gestalt Program.

Mónica Ottino said...

Mis felicitaciones, querido Mariano, por esta alta actividad. Un abrazo Mónica

Saba Bahareen Mansur said...

Thank you for sharing. Godspeed with the Gestalt Program!

Micheline Assier said...

Cher Monsieur Mariano,
Votre soirée de lancement a été une totale réussite ! Elle était très intéressante, très vivante, très claire et complète à la fois.
Micheline Assier

Aemen Javairia said...

Dear Mariano, it is always a great pleasure to hear from you. Enlightening
lecture :) Take care and stay blessed.
Aemen Javairia

Griny en la Tierra said...

Te felicito por tu estupendo trabajo. Cariños, G.

ISOI said...

A great experience, loved it, and had lots of fun.

Pat Capurro said...

Muchas felicitaciones y que sigan los éxitos. Fuerte abrazo, Patricia

Maya Woscoff said...

Maravilla. Me honra ser tu amiga. Te quiero mucho.

Jenny Naseem said...

Well written and informative.

Akifa said...

I greatly enjoyed the lecture.

Saira Iftikhar said...

Your lectures have made me to come to the conclusion that Gestalt really works in every field. Especially the Form and Function topic has real implications in our lives. Moreover, your lectures really urge one's mind to negotiate and discover something abstract from one's inner self. Thanks for all the new seeds you have cultivated in our minds. I am sure one day their fruit will enlighten the whole world with a name: Mariano Akerman.