06/02/2007

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 06.02.2007

Recently in Alcorcon, a suburb of Madrid, it came to violent clashes between middle-class youths, immigrants and the police. The author Antonio Orejudo vents his anger in writing: "Blowing up a bit of a stink, pushing others around, maybe even pulling a knife, this the kind of thrill that allows us to forget the monotony of our existence for a few minutes. The excessive anti-humanist urbanism of recent years is having a brutalising effect on the youth across the country.... And it rarely seems to occur to the local authorities, who are so quick to hand out endless new construction permits, how important common spaces might be for the community, bars, institutions, activities which could channel the testosterone and lust for life of these middle-class kids who are so bored with themselves."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 06.02.2007

Britta Voss is not impressed by talk of male youths as losers in the emancipation game: "The reactionary rhetoric you hear today of masculinity crossing the gender lines is astounding. Up until 20 years ago girls were considered problem children. Yet now, so the story goes, their unquestioning, unassertive 'femininity' makes them disagreeable competitors. Their natural over-sensitivity, submissiveness and loquacity are given a linguistic spin and sold as the workplace-friendly soft skills of emotional intelligence, flexibility and communicativeness. But just wait a few years and the real situation looks entirely different. Women still earn up to 30 percent less than men for the same work, and in top jobs they are like the eccentric dabs of colour."


The paper continues its series on today's megacities, this time from Moscow. Author and artist Dmitri Prigov looks at the three utopias that run riot in the city: the market, the Soviet past and "the third utopia, also an invented idyll, is that of Holy Russia. It can be seen in the spread of an in some way traditional spiritual life, in which the erection of numerous churches (which from an artistic point of view, incidentally, result in a rather chaotic cityscape) plays a big part. The most striking reconstruction is that of the awkward Cathedral of Christ the Redeemer in the city centre. It was originally built to celebrate the victory over Napoleon, then torn down with much effort by the communists in the 20s and 30s. A grandiose Soviet Palace was planned to go up in its place – crowned with a statue of Lenin reaching up into the clouds. But for some reason the project was never realised and a huge swimming pool was built instead. Later this cathedral of physical fitness ceded its place to one of spiritual edification. Regularly the city's most prominent figures can be seen on television in the church, crossing themselves and bowing like mad.


Frankfurter Rundschau
06.02.2007

Petra Kohse visits the modern surveillance state of Nicolas Stemann's "Don Karlos" in the Deutches Theater in Berlin. "Ingo Hülsmann's Philipp begs for absolution, via camera, to a coldly smiling pair of moderators, but meets only with irritated disinterest. No one wants a victim here, the story is over, and already no one knows any more what anyone is talking about. The moderators themselves become images on a screen in the canteen, the canteen becomes an image on a screen somewhere else and so it goes on. New people keep appearing on the big screen and asking half-heartedly 'where now?' until this theatre Spain is reduced to nothing more than a book in the hand of a child, who at the end stands on the stage as infanta, reads the last lines and with a sigh of relief, closes it: 'the end'."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 06.02.2007

Gina Thomas was in London to view Anselm Kiefer's latest sculpture, "two crumbling concrete towers rising 16,50 m high in the central courtyard of the Royal Academy. Rusting steel rebars protrude from the concrete slabs like in the weathered construction carcasses in Southern Italy, standing ruinous as they wait in vain for completion. ... The towers of concrete boxes looks like a house of cards that could topple at any moment. (...) Anselm Kiefer talks about a constantly changing environment and the deceptive stability of things. The Royal Academy seems like a stable building, but it is not. It is unstable, without knowing it." And as for old Joshua Reynolds, the founder of the Royal Academy whose statue can be glimpsed between these "unwieldy symbols, with his paintbrush and palette in hand, he looks downright frivolous."


Die Welt
06.02.2007

Three collectors are presenting works by Sigmar Polke in the Frieder Burda Museum in Baden-Baden. "Commanded by higher powers" was all the painter had to say about his work. Stefan Tolksdorf is delighted that these higher powers had a good sense of irony and a feel for magic: "The magical quality of Polke's works avoids stylistic pigeonholing. Together with his lust for formal experimentation, that is the real charm of this satirist of art history."

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