29/12/2006

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.

Süddeutsche Zeitung 29.12.2006

Jazz musician and writer Chris Abani opens a series of articles on the world's megacities with a homage to Lagos. "If Lagos is a body and the oil pipelines which zigzag across it are its arteries, then the inhabitants of the city are vampires. This vampirism is new. It started very gradually with someone drilling a hole in one of these pipelines to steal a little oil, a barrel here, a barrel there. Then like hungry mosquitoes, more and more people started biting into the arteries taking ever greater risks to get their lifeblood. For a long time the city bled this thick, sweet raw material into buckets that were sold and resold, until eventually it had to rebel. The arteries which had been tapped too often and too swiftly started exploding. Like a sick person trying to save his body from a deadly virus, the city began to kill its parasites, its demons. Every year thousands of people were killed stealing oil. The city has to survive."


Holger Liebs takes delight in falling for the tricks of Andreas Slominski, the artist trapmaker who is currently showing at Frankfurt's Museum for Modern Art. "Take for example this very ordinary-looking football which is lying about in the museum's (vitually) empty hall. There is the temptation to kick it just to hear the space echo when it smacks against the wall leaving perhaps a rounded mark behind it (performance art?). But you know you shouldn't do a thing like this because you're in a museum and the only question which springs to mind is: what is all this nonsense? It's only by asking that you learn that a child's skull is apparently sewn into this ball, which in turn refers to snippet of information from some ethnological primer which claims that the cannibals in Borneo stopped their head hunting when they were introduced to football. And there we were, wondering whether to risk another volley shot. Slominski has got us again."


Die Tageszeitung
29.12.2006

The film of the year, writes Harald Fricke is Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno's documentary "Zidane". "Not only because of its excellent protagonist but because it records in 2005 the blueprint for the Materazzi head butt. "On April 2005 the two video artists were in the stadium with a total of 17 video cameras to record the game between Real Madrid and Villareal. Or more precisely, a single player in this game, because all the cameras were set on Zinedine Zidane alone. Gordon and Parreno sat in a broadcast van giving instructions, telling the cameras to zoom in on Zidane's face, his sweat, which drips from his chin throughout the match, or on his comical scuffling steps in between. The documentation is as thorough as it is psychedelically frayed. A minimal art profile of Zidane, with crazy sound effects coming from the microphone which was attached to the footballer's sock so that every bit of ball contact booms like a thunderclap. And this is all laid on top of a grating looped soundtrack from Mogwai. So far so good, as far as the art goes. Right up until the 85th minute. When Zidane clashes with his opponent Quique Alvarez in front of the goal. Zidane pushes him brusquely – and gets a red card."


Die Welt 29.12.2006

On the media page Joachim Bessing portrays the Canadian Tyler Brule, founder of the lifestyle magazine Wallpaper and the English-language newsmagazine Monocle, due for launch in February. "In Brule's opinion, the publishing houses of his chosen city of residence, London, have failed to grasp that this city is home to people from all over Europe, Asia and the USA. And he finds it incomprehensible that the much-praised British daily and Sunday papers fail to do justice to this internationality, and instead, as he sees it, are 'getting more provincial by the day. But the banker from Germany who lives in London, does not read the German GQ magazine to keep up with fashion trends. He does not take the weekend journal of the Handelsblatt seriously.' The greatest weak point of German publishing houses, says Tyler Brule, is their faith in market research. 'All this is involves is inviting round a couple of housewives from Rostock, giving them a cup of coffee and a few Bahlsen biscuits, and asking them what they think should be printed.'"

The writer Jan Koneffke remembers the time he spent in Romania in 1998. "August 1998: My first visit to my in-laws. Driving from the airport into the city, my father-in-law draws my attention to a 19th century building now home to a casino, where the Hitler-friendly ambassador von Killinger committed suicide after Romania split with Nazi Germany. In the following weeks people I talked to referred without exception to August 23, 1944 as the day 'we betrayed you'. Everyone is utterly convinced that Romania has such bad press in Germany thanks to this forgotten 'betrayal'."

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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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