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GoetheInstitute

17/05/2005

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.

Halfway through Cannes...

Verena Lueken has watched the films by David Cronenberg, Carlos Reygadas, Lars von Trier, and Marco Tullio Giordana. A lot of sex and blood, she writes in the FAZ. Her favourite: Michael Haneke's "Cache": "a highly concentrated cold story... laid over by a quite precise sense of threat that is produced by the relatively harmless video tapes that are sent to an educated middle class family. Who sent them remains unclear to the end, but what happens in the meantime and the performances of Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche, how they begin to spy on and mistrust one another, elevate the film beyond the rest of the weekend program." Daniel Kothenschulte also had an exciting weekend in Cannes, as he writes in the Frankfurter Rundschau. He considers Gus van Sant's "Last Days" (trailer here), about the last days of Kurt Cobain, to be a highly romantic masterpiece: "If he's a romantic, then he's also clearly a Richard Wagner of silence, a Caspar David Friedrich without the need to be perfect, a John Wesley Turner without the perfumed palette." Kothenschulte accuses Lars von Trier of anti-Americanism with "Manderlay", his continuation of "Dogville": "Von Trier knows another country of unlimited opportunity, better than the USA, which he has never visited. It is in the darkness of the cinema. And in the presumed emptiness of the thousand heads which try to make sense of the smart nonsense that their hungry eyes devour."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 17.05.2005


Alfred Schlienger has seen Ruedi Häusermann's "V. v. V. - Verneigung vor Valentin" at the Theater Basel. He was more impressed by a mobile phone ringing in the audience than the play itself: "The woman, not especially young, rifled around in her bag for half an eternity, finally got hold of the thing, but instead of turning it off, began a cheery chat in the middle of the performance; first one assumes this to be a gag on the part of the director – after all, comedian Karl Valentin (on whom the play is based - ed) had to compete with the smoke and noise of Munich's cabarets. The well-intended hypothesis soon proves false. The woman simply doesn't know what she's doing. In soccer, such hooligans are banned from the stadium."



Berliner Zeitung, 17.05.2005


Sebastian Preuss has visited a new exhibition of works by artist Norbert Bisky in Berlin's Künstlerhaus Bethanien gallery. Bisky is son of Lothar Bisky, the chairman of the PDS, successor party to the former East-German communist party, and brother of writer Jens Bisky. Preuss comments: "Bisky's painting is by no means clear in its message, although on the surface it seems to be. The homo-erotic atmosphere with blonde, suntanned boys is reminiscent of the Hitler Youth or the socialist Young Pioneers. The lush realism does not fail to evoke totalitarian propagandistic art. This is the art of seductive superficiality. But is its message as up-front as it seems?" With his first solo show in 2001, Bisky became the overnight darling of the media and collectors. Some have since grown tired of the endless repetition of blond boys in his work. But Preuss comments that the paintings now on display have changed in other respects. "Little remains of the deceptive idylls. A world of violence and ghastly details has replaced the beaming faces and robust complexions. Fire storms and burning aeroplanes shoot across the field where the half-naked boys play. Weapons, bloody wounds and torn-off limbs turn the youthful pleasure garden into a sadistic purgatory. Desire, playfulness and death are so interwoven that the Marquis de Sade would feel right at home."


Die Welt, 14.05.2005


Nathan Gardels talks with anthropologist and conservative Catholic Rene Girard, who argues in favour of the critique of relativism pronounced by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before he became Pope Benedict XVI. Girard sees Catholicism as being above all other religions: "My entire work has aimed at showing that Christianity is a higher belief, and not merely another mythology. In mythology, an angry mob mobilises against scapegoats, making them responsible for one large crisis or another. The crisis ends with the victimisation of the guilty scapegoat through collective violence. This establishes a new order, ordained by God himself." In Christianity, by contrast, "the holy establishment of a faith through collective violence against a scapegoat is exposed as a lie. (...) This debunking of the lie of collective violence is the hallmark of Christianity, which builds on the Jewish faith. This is what makes it unique, what gives it veritable singularity."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 14.05.2005

In a dossier on the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, historian Norbert Frei observes a modification in the Germans' notion of their history, even among the so-called 68er generation. "A radical change in perspective is seen for example in former far-left historian Jörg Friedrich, with his expressionist cascades about the Allied bomb war. Such a change may still be the exception. But even a casual glance will assure you that certain circles that previously interpreted everything, even the private sphere, as 'political', are today astonishingly un-political in their 'privatising' view of history. This view now blurs the differences between perpetrators, victims and tacit supporters of the Nazi regime.

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Saturday 13 - Friday 19 November, 2010

Dieter Schlesak levels grave accusations against his former friend and colleague, Oskar Pastior, who spied on him for the Securitate. Banat-Swabian author and vice chairman of the Oskar Pastior Foundation, Ernest Wichner, turns on Schlesak for spreading malicious rumours. Die Zeit portrays the Berlin rapper Harris, and the moment he knew he was German. Dutch author Cees Nooteboom meditates on the near lust for physical torture in the paintings of Francisco de Zurburan. An exhibition in Mannheim displays the dream house photography of Julius Schulman.
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Saturday 6 - Friday 12 November, 2010

The NZZ asks why banks invest in art. The FAZ gawps at the unnatural stack of stomach muscles in Michelangelo's drawings. The taz witnesses a giant step for the "Yugo palaver". Bernard-Henri Levy describes Sakineh Ashtiani's impending execution as a test for Iran and the west. Journalist Michael Anti talks about the healthy relationship between the net and the Chinese media. Literary academic Helmut Lethen describes how Ernst Jünger stripped the worker of all organic substances.
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Saturday 30 October - Friday 5 November, 2010

Now that German TV has just beatified Pope Pius XII, Rolf Hochmuth tells die Welt where he got the idea for his play "The Deputy". The FR celebrates Elfriede Jelinek's "brilliantly malicious" farce about the collapse of the Cologne City Archive. "Carlos" director Olivier Assayas makes it clear that the revolutionary subject is a figment of the imagination. The SZ returns from the Shanghai Expo with a cloying after-taste of sweet 'n' sour. And historian Wang Hui tells the NZZ that China's intellectuals have plenty of freedom to pose critical questions.
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Saturday 23 - Friday 29 October, 2010

Author Doron Rabinovici protests against the concessions of moderate Austrian politicians to the FPÖ: recently in Vienna, children were sent back to Kosovo at gunpoint. Ian McEwan wonders why major German novelists didn't mention the Wall. The NZZ looks through the Priz Goncourt shortlist and finds plenty of writers with more bite than Houellebecq. The FAZ outs two of Germany's leading journalists who fiercely guarded the German Foreign Ministry's Nazi past. Jens-Martin Eriksen and Frederik Stjernfelt analyse the symptoms of culturalism, left and right. Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht demonstratively yawns at German debate.
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Saturday 16 - Friday 22 October, 2010

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Saturday 9 - Friday 15 October, 2010

The FR laps up the muscular male bodies and bellies at the Michelangelo exhibition in the Viennese Albertina. The same paper is outraged by the cowardice of the Berlin exhibition "Hitler and the Germans". Mario Vargas-Llosa remembers a bad line from Sweden. Theologist Friedrich Wilhelm Graf makes it very clear that Western values are not Judaeo-Christian values. The Achse des Guten is annoyed by the attempts of the mainstream media to dismiss Mario Vargas-Llosa. The NZZ celebrates the tireless self-demolition of Polish writer and satirist Slawomir Mrozek.
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Saturday 2 - Friday 8 October, 2010

Nigerian writer Niyi Osundare explains why his country has become uninhabitable. German Book Prize winner Melinda Nadj Abonji says Switzerland only pretends to be liberal. German author Monika Maron is not sure that Islam really does belong to Germany. Russian writer Oleg Yuriev explains the disastrous effects of postmodernism on the Petersburg Hermitage. Argentinian author Martin Caparros describes how the Kirchners have co-opted the country's revolutionary history. And publisher Damian Tabarovsky explains why 2001 was such an explosively creative year for Argentina.
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Saturday 25 September - Friday 1 October

Three East German theatre directors talk about the trauma of reunification. In the FAZ, Thilo Sarrazin denies accusations that his book propagates eugenics: "I am interested in the interplay of nature and nurture." Polemics are being drowned out by blaring lullabies, author Thea Dorn despairs. Author Iris Radisch is dismayed by the state of the German novel - too much idle chatter, not enough literary clout. Der Spiegel posts its interview with the German WikiLeaks spokesman, Daniel Schmitt. And Vaclav Havel's appeal to award the Nobel prize to Liu Xiabobo has the Chinese authorities pulling out their hair.
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Saturday 18 - Friday 24 September, 2010

Herta Müller's response to the news that poet Oskar Pastior was a Securitate informant was one of overwhelming grief: "When he returned home from the gulag he was everybody's game." Theatre director Luk Perceval talks about the veiled depression in his theatre. Cartoonist Molly Norris has disappeared after receiving death threats for her "Everybody Draw Mohammed" campaign. The Berliner Zeitung approves of the mellowing in Pierre Boulez' music. And Chinese writer Liao Yiwu, allowed to leave China for the first time, explains why schnapps is his most important writing tool.
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Saturday 10 - Friday 17 September, 2010

The poet Oskar Pastior was a Securitate informant, the historian Stefan Sienerth has discovered. Biologist Veronika Lipphardt dismisses Thilo Sarrazin's incendiary intelligence theories as a load of codswallop. A number of prominent Muslim intellectuals in Germany have written an open letter to President Christian Wulff, calling for him to "make a stand for a democratic culture based on mutual respect." And a Shell study has revealed that Germany's youth aspire to be just like their parents.
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Saturday 4 - Friday 10 September, 2010

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