27/08/2007

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.

Monday 27.08.2007

Der Tagesspiegel
27.08.2007

The Berliner Philharmoniker under Simon Rattle kicked off the new season on Saturday with Gustav Mahler's 9th symphony. Christine Lemke-Matwey speaks with the conductor about Berlin and his "first time" with the orchestra. "We rehearsed Mahler's sixth, one of Herbert von Karajan's absolute show-pieces. The sound of the orchestra ploughed over me like a red-hot steamroller. They played like in a concert, not a first rehearsal. Then they wanted to know what I'd do differently. They were curious about differences, about my corrections! In doing so they made it clear right from the start that there is no 'Philharmoniker' sound. That made a deep impression on me." After five years at the head of the orchestra, Rattle is now used to life in Germany: "The longer I live here, the more convinced I am: the woods here are still populated by wraiths and trolls, and the people know it. That's why they're so organised, it's to banish these powers, these affects, these frenetic passions."

German film director Volker Schlöndorff was contracted by film production company Constantin Film to direct the film version of Donna Woolfolk Cross's bestseller "Pope Joan". However, after Schlöndorff attacked the financial and aesthetical mixing of the cinema and TV versions, the company cancelled his contract. Günter Pflaum paints a dour picture of the conflict. "When Edgar Reitz was planning 'Heimat 3' (after the major success of his series 'Heimat' and 'Zweite Heimat' - ed), he had to sit back and listen to a TV bigwig say he could do anything he wanted, as long as it wasn't a 'Reitz film.' What a brazen, biting dig - and what an ignorant rejection of the film d'auteur! Schlöndorff's sacking by Constantin - he always saw 'Die Päpstin' as his project - is one more in a long line of examples. In terms of film politics we're reverting to earlier decades - also aesthetically, as today's hits show, from 'Wer früher stirbt, ist länger tot' (those who die earlier are dead longer) through to 'Fjorde der Sehnsucht' (fiords of longing) and the numerous film versions of books by Rosamunde Pilcher. And the avant-garde, to the extent that they exist at all, are virtually ignored outside the festivals."


Die Tageszeitung
27.08.2007

Gabriele Goettle visits bee researcher Elke Genersch. She thinks the so-called disappearance of the bees is a lot of nonsense and even if it were the case, it wouldn't mean our time was numbered. "There would be insufficient pollination to generate the quantity and quality to which we have grown accustomed. But if we can accept that the apple no longer meets EU grade 1 and is not available throughout the year, then we should be able to live with the level of pollination performed by other insects. Humans will not die out without the bees. There were no honey bees in America before the settlers. The settlers brought them with them in the 18th century. And yet human life existed before that. Bees are indispensable to us. But we can survive without them."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 27.08.2007

"9 to 5 - we call it work" is title of a festival-camp held Thursday to Saturday for the so-called digital bohemia in Berlin. Jens Bisky followed the event which started at 9 pm, and was astonished at the serious tone. "Enough young, freedom-hungry creatives gathered from 9 in the evening to 5 in the morning to discuss a new culture of work, and to put it to the test. Conspicuous by its absence was a party mood. There was nothing even vaguely reminiscent of the wild goings-on of the bohemia that regular 9-to-5ers love to fantasise about. Most of those present were happy to find out about the niceties of cultural journalism, the perfidies of tax law or successful business ideas - rather than partying up a storm."

Gerhard Matzig was also at "9 to 5," and doesn't think much of the new creatives, whose non-conformity, he writes, is primarily expressed in their choice of glasses. "Bohemia is the loneliness of the poor poet under an umbrella in his attic loft, as painted by Carl Spitzweg. Or it's Charles Baudelaire feeling misunderstood, for example when he dressed as a convict in answer to critics of his 'Flowers of Evil.' In this city, however, this has long given way to a major, all-encompassing party, populated not only by poets and literary types, designers and advertisers, but by almost anyone who can say with enough conviction that he's got what it takes to make it. The organisers of this party seldom come from the arts or the realm of thinking. They are merely creations of pure economics. The creatives have ordered themselves into a class of their own, and have managed to rise - or degrade themselves - to become a factor in the business location Berlin."


Saturday 25.08.2007


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 25.08.2007

Werner Spies writes a highly personal essay about Gerhard Richter's design for the "South Transept Window" in the Cologne Cathedral (photos), an abstract colour composition which avoids all pious posturing and which was inaugurated in a service on Saturday. "He has delivered a giant kaleidoscope which offers all conceivable moods. The colour machine functions with such intensity that the eye is unable to stabilise the effect. The act of seeing is surrendered outright to the twinkling window. Generally, the eye finds deliverance in the perception of form, which domesticates undefined, redundant structures. Here however there is no deliverance from the maddening game. Something inescapable opens up, as though the labyrinth we know from the stone floor tiles of sacred rooms were raised and set into the walls."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 25.08.2007

Cees Nooteboom writes an essay about painter Joachim Patinir whose works are currently on show at the Prado. "The banner hanging in front of the Prado to advertise the Patinir exhibition is the largest I have ever seen. I know that the picture on it is just a fraction of the original painting, Charon crosses the Styx, deliving a soul to the underworld in his boat. But the poster doesn't show the entrance to the underworld, the dark rounded gate into which they will row, nor does it show the three-headed hound of hell which guards the entrance, or the flames of purgatory above. I myself will later stand before the painting in the museum, it is one of those images which has secured itself a place in the occidental history of images, and anyone who sets eyes on it has it burnt into their retina forever."

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