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14/05/2010

From the Feuilletons

From the Feuilletons is a weekly overview of what's been happening in the German-language cultural pages and appears every Friday at 3 pm. CET.. Here a key to the German newspapers.

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 10.05.2010

Christina Kleineidam describes the renaissance of religion in Albania after the collapse of the Hoxha dictatorship in 1991. "After Easter, the Sigurimi (secret police) would always go through people's rubbish and if they found coloured egg shells, there would be trouble' – recalls 41-year old Andon Merdani, a bishop of the Albanian Autocephalous Orthodox church. The walls of his office in Tirana are decorated with a crucifix, the photo of the archbishop and a selection of icons, as if the days in which images of saints could survive only in secret, in which candles burned hidden inside the wardrobes of elderly women, in which one risked one's life to christen a child, had never existed. These were times when belief and superstition, decadence and corruption of the state were held in equal contempt and punished by an unforgiving secret police - all on the orders of the communist dictator Enver Hoxha who ruled with an iron fist until his death in 1985."


Die Tageszeitung
10.05.2010

At the Theatertreffen festival, Katrin Bettina Müller watched a conceptual art opera by the New York independent theatre group Nature Theater of Oklahoma: "For the Theatertreffen in Berlin, which selects ten productions of note every year, the Nature Theater of Oklahoma is an alien thing, not just because it is in English (with German subtitles) but because it feels very different. Here is something that reaches for the means of the theatre without feeling at home there. It is something from a time saturated in entertainment formats, that grabs hold of the theatre as if to cool down the working temperature of our culture, in order to dissect and analyse it, as in a laboratory. Its ability to instrumentalise theatre as an analytical device is what makes Nature Theater so fascinating."


Die Welt
10.05.2010

Filmmaker Eva Munz, who lived in Thailand for many years, describes a night in Bangkok on the verge of civil war. She's certainly not an uncritical supporter of Thaksin Shinawatra: "In 2003, he declared war on the drug so popular with truck drivers, YaaBaa or 'crazy medicine'. Within three months the police would supposedly put an end to production, supply and use of this stimulant. Thaksin gave the police a 'license to kill'. Fantasy targets were imposed on provincial police departments for imprisoning or killing drug criminals, black lists were cobbled together, neighbours denounced. People disappeared and were executed without trial. After three months, 2,500 Thais were dead, but truck drivers, prostitutes and slum dwellers were still high."


Die Welt 11.05.2010

Andreas Rosenfelder talks to the city planner Albert Speer of AS&P who genuinely believes that modern architecture can bring democracy to China. He is deeply critical, however, of the cult of spectacular UFO buildings. "Take Zaha Hadid, who is also involved in urban planning in Istanbul and Singapore. Her buildings have nothing to do with their locations. They are just cloud ideas which can be deposited anywhere in the world like volcano ash, quite at random. And the terrible thing is that the people who make the decisions fall for all this. Only later do they realise that it can't work and it doesn't fit their city."


From the blogs
12.05.2010

Stefan Frank interviews the writer and politician Fiamma Nirenstein (homepage) about left-wing anti-Semitism which, she believes, started during the 7 Day War. "The people saw that the Jews were no longer the Jews as they imagined them: a poor minority despised by society who hid themselves away in their houses and synagogues, praying, and who needed permission from non-Jews to do everything. Suddenly the Jews were strong enough to defend themselves against Egypt, Syria and Jordan and even to conquer territory – in a war which should have sealed their fate."


Die Tageszeitung 12.05.2010

Kirsten Riesselmann watched Özcan Alper's film "Sonbahar – Autumn" (trailer).With a deep sigh she turns to Turkish cinema with a series of questions: "Dear young Turkish cinema, why are you so often the way you are? Why is so little said in your films, why is so much emphasis placed on vast landscape shots, on snow-covered mountains, on choppy seas; why do raindrops always trickle down panes of glass, why are autumn leaves always falling to the ground outside the windows, and why do your protagonists always stare through them melancholy-eyed, unmoving, for 30 seconds at a stretch? Why do your stories always take place in the countryside and in traditional settings when your filmmakers are mostly in their early thirties, belong in the inverted commas of the 'Istanbul School' and almost certainly live in the city?..."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 14.05.2010

Gerhard Stadelmaier is beside himself after a breathless evening watching Robert Lepage's "Lipsynch" – "an enterprise which begins with the death of a mother aboard a Lufhansa flight in the clouds and ends with a video deposition from the cross" at the Viennese Festwochen. "Lepage weaves a carpet, or rather a web, in which all the strands, stitches, people, voices and destinies come together although - or perhaps because - they have nothing to do with one another. And they are woven in such a way that thousands of others fit between them and they can never come to an end or even a momentary hiatus at once. Perhaps 'Lipsynch', which (also) deals with the possibility of whether one person can voice the words of another, is something like the first great surface-drama of the internet age: a comedy of entanglements brought on by madness or coincidence, a tragedy of lost souls and, of course, a slapstick soap opera of fate-deciding clicks."

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From the Feuilletons

Saturday 11 - 17 December, 2010

A clutch of German newspapers launch an appeal against the criminalisation of Wikileaks. Vera Lengsfeld remembers GDR dissident Jürgen Fuchs and how he met death in his cell. All the papers were bowled over Xavier Beauvois' film "Of Gods and Men." The FR enjoys a joke but not a picnic at a staging of Stravinsky's "Rake's Progress" in Berlin. Gustav Seibt provides a lurid description of Napoleonic soap in the SZ. German-Turkish Dogan Akhanli author explains what it feels like to be Josef K.
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From the Feuilletons

Saturday 4 - Friday 10 December

Colombian writer Hector Abad defends Nobel Prize laureate Mario Vargas Llosa against European Latin-America romantics. Wikileaks dissident Daniel Domscheit-Berg criticises the new publication policy of his former employer. The Sprengel Museum has put on a show of child nudes by die Brücke artists. The SZ takes a walk through the Internet woods with FAZ prophet of doom Frank Schirrmacher. The FAZ is troubled by Christian Thielemann's unstable tempo in the Beethoven cycle. And the FR meets China Free Press publisher, Bao Pu.
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From the feuilletons

Saturday 27 November - Friday 3 December

Danish author Frederik Stjernfelt explains how the Left got its culturist ideas. Slavenka Draculic writes about censoring Angelina Jolie who wanted to make a film in Bosnia. Daniel Cohn-Bendit talks   about his friendship, falling out and reconciliation with Jean-Luc Godard. Wikileaks has caused an embarrassed silence in the Arab world, where not even al-Jazeera reported on the what the sheiks really think. Alan Posener calls for the Hannah Arendt Institute in Dresden to be shut down.
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From the Feuilletons

Saturday 20 - Friday 26 November, 2010

The theatre event of the week came in a twin pack: Roland Schimmelpfennig's new play, a post-colonial "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" opened at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin and the Thalia in Hamburg. The anarchist pamphlet "The Coming Insurrection" has at last been translated into German and has ignited the revolutionary sympathies of at least two leading German broadsheets, the FAZ and the SZ. But the taz, Germany's left-wing daily, says the pamphlet is strongly right-wing. What's left and right anyway? came the reply.
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From the Feuilletons

Saturday 13 - Friday 19 November, 2010

Dieter Schlesak levels grave accusations against his former friend and colleague, Oskar Pastior, who spied on him for the Securitate. Banat-Swabian author and vice chairman of the Oskar Pastior Foundation, Ernest Wichner, turns on Schlesak for spreading malicious rumours. Die Zeit portrays the Berlin rapper Harris, and the moment he knew he was German. Dutch author Cees Nooteboom meditates on the near lust for physical torture in the paintings of Francisco de Zurburan. An exhibition in Mannheim displays the dream house photography of Julius Schulman.
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From the Feuilletons

Saturday 6 - Friday 12 November, 2010

The NZZ asks why banks invest in art. The FAZ gawps at the unnatural stack of stomach muscles in Michelangelo's drawings. The taz witnesses a giant step for the "Yugo palaver". Bernard-Henri Levy describes Sakineh Ashtiani's impending execution as a test for Iran and the west. Journalist Michael Anti talks about the healthy relationship between the net and the Chinese media. Literary academic Helmut Lethen describes how Ernst Jünger stripped the worker of all organic substances.
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From the Feuilletons

Saturday 30 October - Friday 5 November, 2010

Now that German TV has just beatified Pope Pius XII, Rolf Hochmuth tells die Welt where he got the idea for his play "The Deputy". The FR celebrates Elfriede Jelinek's "brilliantly malicious" farce about the collapse of the Cologne City Archive. "Carlos" director Olivier Assayas makes it clear that the revolutionary subject is a figment of the imagination. The SZ returns from the Shanghai Expo with a cloying after-taste of sweet 'n' sour. And historian Wang Hui tells the NZZ that China's intellectuals have plenty of freedom to pose critical questions.
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From the Feuilletons

Saturday 23 - Friday 29 October, 2010

Author Doron Rabinovici protests against the concessions of moderate Austrian politicians to the FPÖ: recently in Vienna, children were sent back to Kosovo at gunpoint. Ian McEwan wonders why major German novelists didn't mention the Wall. The NZZ looks through the Priz Goncourt shortlist and finds plenty of writers with more bite than Houellebecq. The FAZ outs two of Germany's leading journalists who fiercely guarded the German Foreign Ministry's Nazi past. Jens-Martin Eriksen and Frederik Stjernfelt analyse the symptoms of culturalism, left and right. Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht demonstratively yawns at German debate.
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From the Feuilletons

Saturday 16 - Friday 22 October, 2010

A new book chronicles the revolt of revolting "third persons" at Suhrkamp publishers in the wild days of 1968. Necla Kelek is appalled by the speech of the very Christian Christian Wulff, the German president, in Turkey. The taz met a new faction of hardcore Palestinians who are fighting for separate sex hairdressing in Gaza. Sinologist Andreas Schlieker reports on the new Chinese willingness to restructure the heart. And the Cologne band Erdmöbel celebrate the famous halo around the frying pan.
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From the Feuilletons

Saturday 9 - Friday 15 October, 2010

The FR laps up the muscular male bodies and bellies at the Michelangelo exhibition in the Viennese Albertina. The same paper is outraged by the cowardice of the Berlin exhibition "Hitler and the Germans". Mario Vargas-Llosa remembers a bad line from Sweden. Theologist Friedrich Wilhelm Graf makes it very clear that Western values are not Judaeo-Christian values. The Achse des Guten is annoyed by the attempts of the mainstream media to dismiss Mario Vargas-Llosa. The NZZ celebrates the tireless self-demolition of Polish writer and satirist Slawomir Mrozek.
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From the feuilletons

Saturday 2 - Friday 8 October, 2010

Nigerian writer Niyi Osundare explains why his country has become uninhabitable. German Book Prize winner Melinda Nadj Abonji says Switzerland only pretends to be liberal. German author Monika Maron is not sure that Islam really does belong to Germany. Russian writer Oleg Yuriev explains the disastrous effects of postmodernism on the Petersburg Hermitage. Argentinian author Martin Caparros describes how the Kirchners have co-opted the country's revolutionary history. And publisher Damian Tabarovsky explains why 2001 was such an explosively creative year for Argentina.
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From the Feuilletons

Saturday 25 September - Friday 1 October

Three East German theatre directors talk about the trauma of reunification. In the FAZ, Thilo Sarrazin denies accusations that his book propagates eugenics: "I am interested in the interplay of nature and nurture." Polemics are being drowned out by blaring lullabies, author Thea Dorn despairs. Author Iris Radisch is dismayed by the state of the German novel - too much idle chatter, not enough literary clout. Der Spiegel posts its interview with the German WikiLeaks spokesman, Daniel Schmitt. And Vaclav Havel's appeal to award the Nobel prize to Liu Xiabobo has the Chinese authorities pulling out their hair.
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From the Feuilletons

Saturday 18 - Friday 24 September, 2010

Herta Müller's response to the news that poet Oskar Pastior was a Securitate informant was one of overwhelming grief: "When he returned home from the gulag he was everybody's game." Theatre director Luk Perceval talks about the veiled depression in his theatre. Cartoonist Molly Norris has disappeared after receiving death threats for her "Everybody Draw Mohammed" campaign. The Berliner Zeitung approves of the mellowing in Pierre Boulez' music. And Chinese writer Liao Yiwu, allowed to leave China for the first time, explains why schnapps is his most important writing tool.
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From the Feuilletons

Saturday 10 - Friday 17 September, 2010

The poet Oskar Pastior was a Securitate informant, the historian Stefan Sienerth has discovered. Biologist Veronika Lipphardt dismisses Thilo Sarrazin's incendiary intelligence theories as a load of codswallop. A number of prominent Muslim intellectuals in Germany have written an open letter to President Christian Wulff, calling for him to "make a stand for a democratic culture based on mutual respect." And a Shell study has revealed that Germany's youth aspire to be just like their parents.
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From the Feuilletons

Saturday 4 - Friday 10 September, 2010

Thilo Sarrazin has buckled under the stress of the past two weeks and resigned from the board of the Central Bank. His book, "Germany is abolishing itself", however, continues to keep Germany locked in a debate about education and immigration and intelligence. Also this week, Mohammed cartoonist Kurt Westergaard has been awarded the M100 prize for defending freedom of opinion. Chancellor Angela Merkel gave a speech at the award ceremony: "The secret of freedom is courage". The FAZ interviewed Westergaard, who expressed his disappointment that the only people who had shown him no support were those of his own class.
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