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14/11/2006

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.

Spiegel Online 14.11.2006

In an epic-length interview with Spiegel Online editors Claus-Christian Malzahn and Andreas Brocholte, singer songwriter Wolf Biermann draws a few paradoxical lessons from the history of the GDR. "On a per capita basis, the Stasi, or secret police, had 20 times as many informers as the Nazis. Does that mean the GDR was 20 times as bad as National Socialism? Of course not. The powerful apparatus of informers employing so many highly-paid rascals, whether officers or unofficial employees, is striking proof that there were very many people in the GDR who had to be spied on and oppressed." See our features by Wolf Biermann here and here.


Frankfurter Rundschau
14.11.2006

Identifying herself as a "fanatic, professional, childless woman of 50 plus, a rather useless age," the author Cora Stephan takes up the woman / mother / children question. "I can, for example, no longer stand to hear the accusatory claim that this or that sprout whining for 'mummy' and 'chocolate' embodies my future and will pay my pension one day. In the best case, the little sprout will spend an eternity on his education, won't find a job in Germany, will – if female – according to the Eve principle, become a mother or overqualified housekeeper for her husband or will seek – if male – his fortune, or rather work, abroad. In the worse case, the sprout will remain a couch potato, in the care of mama and papa state. Whatever the case, the nutritional value of 'my' pension is minimal.... The 'achievers' who are paying 'our' pensions are not 'the youth' but rather the 30-50 year olds, a valuable minority, who subsidise the constantly growing public sector and have to pay the miraculously multiplying good deeds of politics."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 14.11.2006

Two texts are devoted to the horrible plans of the Gazprom company to pour its power into architecture. In front of Petersburg, the empire wants to erect an entire city: Gazprom city. All offices of note are taking part in the international competition: Jean Nouvel, Herzog and de Meuron, RMJM, Rem Koolhaas, Daniel Libeskind and Massimiliano Fuksas. Gerhard Matzig shudders. "This energy-architecture is worth seeing, but at the same time spooky. Defined by the best known architects of the present, the futurism that is supposedly represented here will soon have to turn to its own past. The Gazprom city project which Jean Nouvel claims is as groundbreaking as Paris' Eiffel tower once was, is anything but innovative. It seems as though a dying industrial sector, at the height of its power, is building eerily beautiful monuments."

Things do not look good for Saint Petersburg, Sonja Zekri writes: "Whereas conservationists are on the verge of tears at the sight of Moscow, where thousands of historical buildings have been destroyed to make room for either absurd copiesnew monstrosities, Saint Petersburg has long lived a life of poverty and intactness. Things started to change three years ago, with the 300 birthday celebrations. Other projects followed: Dominique Perrault designed an annex for the Mariinsky Theatre. Norman Foster is building an amphitheatre on the former New Holland military compound. A Silicon Valley type of technology centre and a miniature park are also in the works: Petersburg has awoken from its Sleeping Beauty slumber. But no project flies so brutally in the face of the city's character as Gazprom City."


Die Tageszeitung
14.11.2006

Stefan Reinecke is impressed by the minimalism of the films at the 30th documentary film week in Duisberg. Aesthetically most stunning was "Unser täglich Brot" (Our daily bread), Nikolaus Geyrhalter's look at the current state of industrial agriculture. "There are no interviews with workers, but rather pictures of cold beauty, like photographic still-lifes. The serial killing of fish, cattle, pigs and chickens is also to be seen, and blood sprays. But the horror that these pictures convey is more subtle. The fields, the greenhouses and abattoirs seem to be as unpeopled as the car factories. We see a world of machines, a system whose perfection is its perversion. 'Unser täglich Brot' is not a horror film, more a science fiction film. If Kubrick had shot a documentation about the agricultural industry, it would have looked roughly like this."

Katrin Bettina Müller reviews the book "Brakin. Brazzaville - Kinshasa. Visualising the Visible," which documents two visits in 2005 by a group of artists to the capitals of The Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazzaville) and The Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa). "Initiator was the architect Wim Cuyvers. He works as an 'advising researcher' at the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastrict, which supported the project. Cuyvers' approach to the two cities is seemingly simple: What do pedestrians learn from the public space in these cities? What does it betray to them? In an essay, however, Cuyvers makes clear at the start that even the concept of 'public space' falls apart on the terrain. For instance, he photographed street signs advertising privately run and guarded cemeteries. Together with refugee camps, they mark the cities' outskirts, as do the 'digital hotels' housing brothels and video sex shops. Accordingly, one of the maps in the book is called 'Edges of the city. Conglomerats of new cemetries, refugee camps and digital hotels'."

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Saturday 20 - Friday 26 November, 2010

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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