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30/05/2008

From the Feuilletons

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.

Deutsche Telekom surveillance

The feuilletons have been curiously silent about this story but it is worth mentioning just the same. Germany is in the midst of a first-class spy scandal: According to a report in der Spiegel, Deutsche Telekom has had its own managers and supervisory board members as well as journalists under surveillance for more than a year. Now the Public Prosecution Office has launched an investigation. According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the prosecutors "suspect that Telekom's spies are even monitoring the movements of individual journalists and board members. They accessed data from the Telekom's mobile phone subsidiary, T-Mobile, listing the precise locations in Germany where the Capital journalist Reinhard Kowalewsky met his alleged informant from the board of directors, the head of the worker's committee Wilhelm Wegner." According to a report in the Financial Times Deutschland, former Stasi employees helped in the surveillance. In die Zeit, Götz Hamann calls for a clear agreement on data transparency. "The further technology advances, the greater the temptations – and the abuse. Liberal societies have to redefine what should be allowed and what not. Where does the responsibility of the individual lie? And that of business - and the state?"


Frankfurter Rundschau 30.05.2008

"When two small states size each other up, intellectual substance is seldom involved," writes Viennese essayist and author Franz Schuh, on the rather tense relations between the joint hosts of the Euro2008 football championship, Switzerland and Austria. "As I see it there are small differences, and there is the narcissism of small differences. In other words people hate each other, if they hate each other – see Swiss-Austrian jokes – because they are so similar. The Austrian Alpine idiots who populate Swiss jokes are what they are thanks to the cross-border projection of Swiss dreariness... In the same way, impressions of the Swiss accent stem from a particular self-contented apathy that graces many an Austrian stage. But as far as I'm concerned, the most important question for the Swiss is this: How can you live in the Alps and be so rich?


Perlentaucher 29.05.2008

"No sooner has Peter Handke reaped praise from the feuilletons for the tenderness of his prose in 'Die Morawische Nacht' (due out in English as "Samara"), than he's back again with a new statement on the war in Yugoslavia, writes Thierry Chervel. "In today's Rheinischen Merkur he called for Europe to proclaim a 'day of shame': 'March 24, 1999 when NATO launched its illegal war against Yugoslavia, will be remembered by righteous minds (at the side of minds on the Right) as a relapse of the German crime, not under the banner of National Socialism, but something just as hellish.'" Handke's demand comes in support of a group of Serbs whose members were killed by a NATO bombing raid on a bridge over the Morava in the small town of Varvarin. They are now trying to file for compensation at the German Federal Court. "The leading dailies have barely reacted to Handke's text. Only the FAZ and die Presse (here) noted its existence. But the question remains as to what exactly Handke means by 'righteous minds (at the side of minds on the Right)?'"


Die Welt 29.05.2008

The "three generals" of German museums, Peter-Klaus Schuster (New National Gallery Berlin) Martin Roth (State Art Collection, Dresden) and Reinhold Baumstark (Bavarian State Painting Collection, Munich) were in Dubai to discuss the construction of the so-called "universal museum", writes Eckhard Fuhr. "It has already been decided that this won't be some sort of branch museum. The concept, as Baumstark put it, is to exhibit 'the fundamental principles of world knowledge', in other words sweeping themes like state, religion, the written word, images of the world and so on. And the art focus is the crossover between Islamic cultural circles and other cultures."


Spiegel Online 29.05.2008

Andrei Eroveev, head curator of the Tretjyakov Gallery, is being taken to court again, reports Carmen Eller. For the exhibition "Forbidden Art 2006" he selected 24 works "which fell victim to Russian media censorship. For example a blonde under a shower of oil, a grinning militiaman with dollar bills, an icon made of caviar. Or the 'Chechen Marilyn', a photograph by the Siberian artist group Blue Noses. Her black robe is fluttering as high as Marilyn Monroe's skirt in Billy Wilder's 'Seven Year Itch'. She has a white skull pattern on her black tights and explosives round her waist. Eroveev suspected that this wouldn't wash with the authorities, which is why on entering the museum, visitors see nothing but a white wall. To see the pictures hidden behind it, they have to climb ladders and look through tiny peep-holes. This is both a safety measure and an image of fear. Eroveev did not dare show the images openly. But trouble arrived just the same."


Berliner Zeitung 29.05.2008

After watching the new American version of Michael Haneke's film "Funny Games" Christina Bylow concludes: "What makes European cinema European is not the script, and not the camera – it's the actors. (...) The first rule of the US film industry is: always look good. Even when her little son is being tortured, Naomi Watts never lets her face look distraught or distorted face like Susanne Lothar. Watts can't even muster a fraction of the rebellious energy which flares out of Lothar's character before she surrenders. More drastic still is the gap between Ulrich Mühe and Tim Roth. Ulrich Mühe's eyes are pure agony, wide open, defenceless and over-alert, even in his powerlessness. Tim Roth – it has to be said – stares expressionlessly at the event, as if he were watching TV where, by coincidence, a family was being murdered."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 28.05.2008

In conversation with Jörg Häntzschel, architect Daniel Libeskind explains why he doesn't work for dictatorships like China: "Buildings are not autonomous, abstract objects. They are part of life, part of a context. We can admire the colosseum in Rome because we separate it from the context of gladiator fights, where human beings were killed. But if you look at it in context, you see it somewhat differently. It was built to make a public show of violence."


Die Tageszeitung 27.05.2008

Position 79 in the Freedomhouse press freedom ratings, behind Bulgaria and Mongolia. Political columnist Marco Morosoni sees a black future for Italy, here and elsewhere. "Both extremes – high material consumption and low socio-ecological awareness – characterise Italy of the last 30 years: high growth, low development; large-scale private enrichment, steady drop in public property; increase in advertising, drop in research; lots of stadiums, few high schools; lots of commercial TV, little culture."


Frankfurter Rundschau 26.05.2008

Christian Schlüter reports from the International Comic Salon in Erlangen which this year provided a platform for Chinese Manhua comic artists, among them the 34-year-old Benjamin and his comic "Remember". "Of course censorship rules in China. And of course Chinese comics or Manhuas, can't show and say everything. The chief editor of a major Manhua magazine has clear orders: political issues are taboo, as is sexuality, violence and death. Artists should opt for the innocuous, love-struck young couples ... and they should look to Japanese manga for inspiration, if only because those saucer-eyes sell. 'Put plagiarism first!' the chief editor barks at the artist. But he's had it up to here with this patronising tone. In a Samurai costume, he storms into the editorial office and takes out the editor with one stroke of his sword. So extreme is the rage against the authorities in Benjamin's comic 'Remember', which has just been published by Tokyopop."


Der Tagesspiegel 26.05.2008

Business starts in new US embassy tomorrow. (The official opening ceremony is July 4). Bernhard Schulz is appalled at the banality of this fortress-like building: "The US embassy will be the opposite of everything for which American embassies, consulates and 'America Houses' once stood. US presence in Germany has emanated not welcoming openness but cold control since the end of the 80s. It is a bitter pill that this should now take the form of a building in Berlin, a city which has 10 years of American engagement to thank for its freedom and reunification. The aftertaste will not be washed away by the staged merriment at the opening celebrations."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 24.05.2008

In an interview Hong Kong film star Michelle Yeoh talks about dance, martial arts and her new film "Far North", which has just premiered at the Norwegian film festival in Tramsö:
"Yeoh: It was strange. When we sneaked back into the auditorium just before the end of the film to answer audience questions, someone was laughing. I very much hope it was nervous laughter.
SZ: That's the bit where you are strangling your daughter to get your hands her husband?
Yeoh: Yes. It can be too much for emotionally healthy people. The script is based on an Inuit myth about a woman who was expelled from the tribe. It has turned into story about the dark side of human nature, which we will never understand on a normal day sipping our cappuccinos."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 24.05.2008

The Iraqis still live in too much fear to think about literature, exiled Iraqi writer Najem Wali tells Irene Binal. "Five years down the line and we still have neither a novel about our history nor our new situation. We have not discovered a manuscript in a drawer which was written under the dictatorship and hidden away there, and there is also no work which deals with the past in retrospect. Silence rules. In the years under Saddam Hussein and during the war, at least 10,000 poems and novels came out and that's a conservative estimate. And suddenly – nothing! Even my fellow writers who live abroad are suddenly speechless." Read our feature by Najem Wali "A journey into the heart of the enemy"

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