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27/03/2007

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 27.03.2007

Paris-based Russian writer Viktor Erofeyev objects to the West's seeing Russia only as a "big, messy room in the House of Europe, with dirty windows and cockroaches": "Whatever people in the West say about the state of freedom in Russia and despite all its inner fluctuations, in the last fifteen years the country has become far freer than it ever was before. Above all, freedom in private life has reached unheard of proportions, and can hardly be checked now. Consumer society and the philosophy of pleasure have become a reality, even for people who reject both. The consciousness of today's Russians is becoming increasingly disrupted, increasingly surrealistic. Basically, that reflects the real, not the imaginary Russia. But from the contradictory image of our country, the West almost always picks out only the bits that strike it as scandalous and wild." See our feature "Russian dichotomies" by Viktor Erofeyev here.


Neue Zürcher Zeitung
, 27.03.2007

Marc Zitzmann has been to the Paris court proceedings where central questions relating to art are being discussed, among them the actions of the post-Dadaist Pierre Pinoncelli (more), who went at Duchamp's famous toilet bowl with a hammer, claiming this would represent a perfect conclusion to the work. "The argumentation sounds a little delirious, but gives rise to a debate that seems something like a Byzantine discussion of transsubstantiation. The question is: what precisely was Duchamp's 'work': the pissoir in its material form or the idea itself of presenting an industrial product as 'art'? In the first case, Pinoncelli did indeed damage the 'work', in the latter, not." In the appeal court, Pinoncelli was charged with restoration costs in the amount of 14.352 euros.


Frankfurter Rundschau 27.03.2007

The Black Square is more of a logo than a revolution, reports Elke Buhr, after visiting the homage to Kazimir Malevich in Hamburg's Kunsthalle. "The square is subject to a wide variety of interpretations as to its form and the concept behind it. Nevertheless one thing becomes clear here: there is a certain pathos in Malevich's legacy. Whether it's Beckett or the German artists of the group Zero, whether Ad Reinhardt or Donald Judd: the - incidentally predominantly male - avant-garde takes itself seriously, often to the point of ludicrousness. For example there's the artists' group Art & Language. In 1967/68 it ironically wrote on a black painting that the content of the painting was invisible and known solely by the artist. And of course Sigmar Polke's painting 'Höhere Wesen befahlen: rechte obere Ecke schwarz malen!' (higher beings have ordered: paint the right upper corner black!) and Rosemarie Trockel's 'Cogito Ergo Sum' knitted onto a black square also deserve mention here."


Berliner Zeitung
, 27.03.2007

Jan Thomsen describes how Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit, who was initially totally opposed to granting Wolf Biermann the honorary citizenship of Berlin, retreated from his position at the award ceremony yesterday and remained silent on Biermann's accusation that the coalition between SPD and PDS - which forms Berlin's city government - is a crime (more). "Biermann didn't let things get too comfortable. 'I find it criminal that you have been willing to collaborate so closely with the inheritors of the DDR nomenclature. That hurts,' he said. If he were to change his mind, he'd say so, he said. And then he thanked Wowereit and the SPD for changing their opinion about him and naming him honorary citizen. While the PDS, as 'cadre of cramped closedness,' had remained strictly opposed, the SPD was able to change its course in the middle of the tempest. 'An about-turn in a safe harbour is a human right,' Biermann said and received a little applause for his malice."


Die Tageszeitung
, 27.03.2007

Klaus-Helge Donath has been to Chechnya and reported on the intertwined power relationships surrounding the Russian-supported ruler Ramzan Kadyrov (more): "Even the Kremlin doesn't give in to the illusion that a Chechen renegade like Ramzan could turn into a Russian patriot who would sing the Song of Songs with the central power. The Chechen is only willing to play along as long as it's to the advantage of himself and his clan. The rigorous clan politics that holds non clan-members back from the feeding trough gives rise to ever new problems. Kadyrov amnestied former separatists and integrated them into his own security structures. Chechens who had traditionally been faithful to Moscow fell by the wayside. Today they stand in opposition to the ruling clan and therefore, unwillingly, to the Kremlin that supports it."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 27.03.2007

Vasco Boenisch was at the premiere of "Erkundungen für die Präzisierung des Gefühls für einen Aufstand" (investigation specifying the feelings for an uprising) by German proto-pop poet Rolf Dieter Brinkmann (who died in a car accident in 1975 - more on Brinkmann here), staged at the Schauspiel Köln by actor/director Martin Wuttke. "The play is based on the thick notebooks that Brinkmann put together out of photos, newspaper clippings and his own texts in the autumn of 1971. In it, associations, reflections and stories about Brinkmann's nightly walks through the inner city of Cologne and his own vegetative nervous system are mixed together by the big DJ named Chance. These are texts about the central experience of modernity: social fragmentation."

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