20/02/2007

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.

Die Welt 20.02.2007

In an interview with Michael Skafidas, Turkish author Elif Shafak tells of the moving funeral for the Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink, stating: "I criticise the xenophobia and the ultra-nationalism in my country. But I also criticise the persistent Islamophobia and Turkophobia in the West... I support Turkey's EU membership with my whole heart. I believe it would be good not only for Turkey, but also for Europe. Millions of Muslims live in the heart of Europe, and the Old Continent is faced with the question of hybrid cultures. That is a serious challenge. As far as Turkey goes, Europe is in a singular position. It's true the country must take further steps toward reform, but it should be encouraged to do so, not just discouraged." See our feature "I like being several people," an interview with Elif Shafak.


Süddeutsche Zeitung
20.02.2007

Wolfgang Schreiber tries to find the perfect characterisation for the famous sound of the German orchestra. "Its musical principles of organisation are governed by intense and widely stretched tensions which are carried by melodiousness, the long bow-stroke of the violin. Inexhaustible melodious energy unfolds in the extreme breadth of sound, which seems to be dark in colour and deeply graduated. Typical is the expressive warmth of the woodwinds, the wide swings of vibrato. But do Brahms and Bruckner always have to be intoned so?"

Photographer Wolfgang Tillmans is neither surprised nor bothered that the rumpled, monochromatic photo paper used in his most recent exhibition in Hanover, his first in Germany in five years, is being received with bewilderment. "I would call that a conscious slowing-down of seeing. Of course, the content of the picture itself is so strong and convincing that very few people are aware of its materiality. The public reception generally hobbles way behind the self-perception of the artist. It seems to me that changing the course is about as difficult as it is for a huge tanker. My theory: it takes about seven years. I have always been happy to do the opposite of what was being written about me."


Frankfurter Rundschau 20.02.2007

Joachim Lange is much impressed by Nikolaus Harnoncourt's original conducting of Mozart's "The Magic Flute," under the direction of Martin Kusej at the Opernhaus Zurich: "When Harnoncourt takes his interpretational plough to Mozart, what we get is not just a routine ticking off of arias, and it's a far cry indeed from any sort of agreeable hit-presentation. He has his own, demanding understanding of precision and tempo. And these are sometimes astonishing compared with normal catchy interpretations. His 'Magic Flute' in Zurich is rather dark and romantic. In an anticipatory return to Schubert, much here sounds like a dramatically illuminated lieder-drama, including bursts of sudden sobbing and moments of calm. Listeners are kept wide awake, even during the best-known arias, which unfold with an individual, musical power of suggestion."

Mirja Rosenau can't help feeling a tad dizzy at the Schirn Kunsthalle's "Op Art" exhibition in Frankfurt, featuring works of 50 artists from the 1960s. "When you look at Bridget Riley's black dots on a white background, you quickly come to see other dots not present in the work. To some that may seem like a comparatively simple optical illusion. And also Carlos Cruz-Diez' striking 'Chromosaturation', with four cells lit with different colours for each of which the eye very quickly reverts back to white, may strike one now as a cautiously didactic lesson in the physiology of perception. But while Marina Apollonio's walk-on spiral disk - which was designed in 1967 and only now built for the first time - rotates around the Schirn rotunda at a visitor-friendly pace, with Julio Le Parc's installation it's soon difficult to tell if your own bloodstream is playing along, whether it's you or the light that's twitching, or if for some incomprehensible reason the floor of the entire museum is pulsating. And Davide Boriani's 'Ambiente stroboscopico,' a mirrored room in which stroboscope light flashes on the red-green striped floor, is nothing for weak hearts."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 20.02.2007

The suggestion by Federal Minister for Family Affairs Ursula von der Leyen that Germany dramatically increase the number of daycares in order to improve conditions for working mothers has unleashed a heated discussion in Germany, in particular within her conservative party, about family values (more here and here). Christian Geyer has a clear position on the issue. "Politicians, please stop looking for thousands of reasons to support or oppose the daycares. Just take the one argument in favour of more nurseries seriously: that the country should offer this basic provision and does not. Only then do women who can't afford an au-pair or nanny, have the choice to work. If there are no spots free at the nursery, then there's no choice. Not the other way around."

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