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22/06/2007

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.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 22.06.2007

In an interview, Marina Litvinenko, the widow of the murdered former KGB officer, calls Vladimir Putin and not Andre Lugovi, who has been charged, the actual man behind the polonuim attack (news story). "I think that he was pushed to this murder by Putin and his functionaries. My thesis is that the murder was blamed on Russian dissidents in London so that they would lose the support of the British establishment." Litvinenko speculates further that it was a planned murder that caused her husband to leave the secret service. "The turning point came in 1997, when he was transferred to a secret subdivision. Sasha was told to kill Boris Beresovsky (more), who had been a long-time advisor to the Kremlin. Sasha and one of his colleagues didn't want to become the playthings of a political intrigue and informed Beresovsky. In panic, Sasha confided in his former boss; from then on he was considered a traitor."

"Productive failure" is what Niklas Maak observes at this summer's Documenta exhibition for contemporary art. A field of poppies planned by one artist has sprouted nothing but weeds, street cleaners removed Chilean artist Lotty Rosenfeld's white crosses from the street where she'd stuck them, and now a storm has toppled Ai Wei Wei's tower made from old door and window shutters (photos). "Even before the storm, Ai Wei Wei's 'Template' looked corroded and monstrous, like a huge sculpture raised after being submerged for years in the watery depths. Now it looks like a crumpled, archaic machine equipped with mill wheels, whose purpose remains a mystery. Yet strangely, it appears much more elegant than it did before. Its creator is thrilled, and doesn't want to have it rebuilt. 'It's much better than it was,' Ai Wei Wei says. 'Now the power of nature is visible. Art takes on real beauty with such emotions.'"
(Read our feature "Summer of political art" on Documenta 12.)


Frankfurter Rundschau
22.06.2007

Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab considers the Israelis more responsible than the Islamists for the chaos in the Palestinian territories. The Palestinians are not yet masters of their own fate, he writes. "Some Palestinians plea for an end to the farce of Palestinian independence. This position, publicly represented by Dr. Ali Jirbawi at Birzeit University, would mean giving all power and responsibility to the Israelis, rejecting all transitional solutions and thus pressuring Israel to take full responsibility for the security and economic provision of the occupied territories, or to sign a final agreement in which Israel guarantees the Palestinians complete sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Polish historian Robert Zurek criticises the "paternalism" with which the German media treats his homeland, making Poland responsible for the failed process of EU unification, rather than the French and the Dutch, who voted "no" to the EU constitution. "Different standards seem to be applied to the eastern neighbours. Here we find terms like 'nonsense', 'arrogance' or 'audacity'; serious consequences are threatened, even punishment. And that in Germany's leading media. The scheme is black and white. The Polish position is judged to be egotistical and destructive, the Poles are called cynical smarty-pants who want to exploit the EU for their own purposes or who claim they don't understand what constructive EU membership means."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 22.06.2007

In contemporary theatre, the director becomes the author, and the author becomes the medium, writes Christopher Schmidt on the Mülheimer Theatertagen, a contemporary theatre festival that ended earlier this month. "It's increasingly the case that productions turn the stage over to the audience. They pass microphones through the rows and transform themselves into any number of things: public forums for truth-protocols, pirated copies and notations. In this way theatre becomes a content-merger, a provider, a heat reservoir and an old-fashioned radio. Director Philip Tiedemann has taken this trend to its extreme, and parodied it at the same time. At the beginning of this season, for instance, he turned a passing joke into an evening of theatre by staging the Hamburg telephone book."

Bulgarian author Vladimir Zarev hopes that with its entry into the EU, his country will finally be delivered from the chaos of the post-transitional phase. "We're expecting especially hard punishment for the former director of Sofia's central heating company, who everyone here simply calls 'Valentin the warm.' Despite his salary of just 600 euros a month, in a short time he was able to amass over 15 million euros in Austrian accounts and Bulgarian safes. Things were just the opposite with his customers: although they were increasingly thrifty and many had their radiators shut off altogether, their heating bills just kept going up."


nachtkritik 22.06.2007

Felizitas Ammann saw "The Visit" by Friedrich Dürrenmatt's in Zürich, staged by Rimini Protokoll – well not really staged; the performance was a recollection of the play's premiere 51 years ago. "Hans Städeli, the stage technician at the time, described in detail what was going on behind the stage. He recalled the pauses and former colleagues, the drawing floor (picture) and the two firemen who were standing ready, each with a bucket of water. That is the only and very entertaining declaration of love to the clumsy theatre apparatus that has not really changed despite all the new technologies. Städeli was interrupted by a stage manager who kept throwing in his two cents worth, with calls for the historical and contemporary stagings – the various eras kept running together."

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