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GoetheInstitute

11/07/2008

From the Feulletons

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.

Süddeutsche Zeitung 11.07.2008

Till Briegleb traces the success story of Danish architecture since the 90s, thanks to architects such as the Bjarke Ingels Group (here their designs for "The Battery"), Mutopia, 3xNielsen and Henning Larsen. "Exciting designs and top quality living are so successfully combined with the Danish design tradition that Oerestad exudes the cheerful urbanity in which Danes take so much pride. BIG, for example, are building a colourful complex of offices, terraced houses and apartment blocks in the form of the number eight. It has a revolutionary serpentine structure which enables people to cycle up the tenth floor. Danish cycling professionals could learn a valuable lesson here about climbing mountains without doping."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung
10.07.2008

Markus Ackeret informs us about the plans of the new Russian Minister of Culture, Alexander Avdeyev to boost the arts in the new Russia: "We should look, he believes, to sports sponsorship, where wealthy businessmen step in as sponsors. We could make financially powerful magnates the new museum chairmen. Because the state is keen that art should again serve the greater good. Avdeyev is not only concerned about the declining state of the arts; morals need rescuing too. And film sponsoring is a priority. In future the state will directly commission films, the cultural minister announces. The best directors will be invited to realise projects which uphold ideas of humanism, morality, patriotism and other spiritual values of Russia's peoples, he said."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 10.07.2008

Mongolian shaman and author Galsan Tschinag witnessed the heavy protests which followed the supposed election fraud on July 1 in Ulan Bator. He reports:"You can learn a lot by watching a tragedy play out. It is surprising what can suddenly emerge out of a routine protest: everyone slides into the abyss of terrifying violence. The state is not as strong as it makes out. The police were overwhelmed by the rioters. And the soldiers, who rushed to support them, were equally ineffective. We are seeing the consequences of a blind glorification of the country's marauding past through the recent overnight u-turn in historiography, art and culture - the young people will stop at nothing in acting out this questionable heroism."


Die Zeit 10.07.2008

Georg Blume and Jörg Binder visit Xu Jiehua, the wife of the Chinese environmental activist Wu Lihong, who was thrown into prison for his fight against water pollution. "A worker, who single-handedly took on the factories and the authorities and whose fame has reached Bejing. For over a decade Wu fought to protect Lake Tai, one of China's largest inland waters. 30 million people live on its shores and around 3000 factories pump their waste unaccounted for into the lake. But officials behave as if everything was fine. Wu discovered that the city of Yixing had been tampering with the water quality tests. He filed over 200 reports against companies, demanding that factories pay damages. 'Now he can spend his time in prison thinking about what his family means to him,' says Xu. She is just as furious with her husband as she is with the authorities."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 09.07.2008

Gustav Seibt reports back elated from the Sebastiano del Piombo exhibition in Berlin's Gemälde Galerie, a brilliant painter of the High Renaissance whose reputation has still to recover from Vasari's unjustly negative legend. For Seibt, Sebastiano's perhaps most impressive painting is the Pieta of Viterbo, which was painted ten years before the plundering of Rome in 1527. "Christ lies in the foreground, athletic, yet with a Giorgioniesque softness. There is a sweet monumentality to him, that foreshadows Ingres. Behind him, separate, a pyramidal, almost androgynous Madonna in costliest lapis lazuli blue wrings her hands, while looking up calmly at the sky, a hellish night sky with fires and storms raging on the horizon. Many interpreted this as a reference to Dante, because it was believed that the entrance to the Inferno lay in Viterbo. Be that as it may, Sebastiano's painting flickers with a stark ambivalence between the beautiful godly flesh of the dead Christ and the hellish absence of salvation in the world. Anyone who can develop tensions like this doesn't need historical catastrophe to advance aesthetic form."


Frankfurter Rundschau 10.07.2008

Arno Widmann was present when German President Horst Köhler had the enviable privilege of listening to the world's top experts discuss modernity in all its many facets: "When the Chinese speaker, Professor Hui Wang, explained that China has always been an empire and not a nation state, and that therefore the yardstick of the nation state should not be used to measure the Tibet question, Köhler had just left the room. Would he have been able to sit there silently? Would he have not had to 'respond'? It was cunningly nimble of him to have just popped out precisely at the only delicate moment of the nine-hour marathon session. I ask myself if Hui Wang had announced that he would only come on condition that he would be allowed to say this, and if Köhler's office had answered that 'We live in a democracy so you may say what you wish'."


Die Welt 10.07.2008

German-Iranian author and Iranian regime critic Said wanted to read together with his Israeli colleague Ascher Reich at the Berlin Beirut-Festival in September, but the Lebanese Embassy has torpedoed the initiative: "It's clear to me that I cannot undertake this token of reconciliation in my place of birth, Tehran – I'm not too welcome there at the moment. Blue-eyed as I am, I thought that Berlin would be the suitable place."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 09.07.2008

Jürgen Kasten celebrates the discovery of parts (of a 16mm copy, not the original) of the classic film "Metropolis" in Buenos Aires, which were believed to be lost forever: "What the MGM cutters had edited out in 1927 were mainly sub-plot sequences. Now the secretary of the youthful hero becomes a more developed character, as does the worker who functions as the doppelgänger of the millionaire's son and who is kept under surveillance by the futuristic city patriarch. This was admittedly previously known from the screenplay, but only seen rudimentarily in the film. It shows Lang's infatuation with sub-plots that branch out into complexity and paranoia. More important are two other parts of the discovered footage. For one, the background story to the millionaire (and thus his neuroses and narcissism) and his love rival, the inventor Rotwang, become comprehensible, as they were both in love with the same woman."


Die Welt 08.07.2008

Uta Baier takes up cudgels for the impressionist Gustave Caillebotte, as an exhibition takes place in Bremen showing numerous rarely seen works from private owners. He was not only a patron of the Impressionists, he was himself a great painter who has long been misjudged by art history because he was wealthy and did not need to earn a living from his art, writes Baier: "This erroneous view hindered the careers and recognition of many artists, Caillebotte among them. He painted some of the boldest, most radical and most modern pictures of his time: racy vistas over the new Paris, homages to technical progress, bridges which pierce through nature like a giant foreign body, never-seen cross-sections which draw the beholder directly into the events."


Spiegel Online 05.07.2008

Henryk M. Broder enters the debate about the cartel of human rights abusers on the United Nations Human Rights Council who would like to report in future on 'abuses of the freedom of expression and thought' where 'racist or religious discrimination' is involved: "Naturally, it's not about the organisation punishing vilifications of Christianity by Muslim fanatics or denouncing anti-Semitic cartoons in the Iranian press. It's about banishing any criticism of the practice of Islam and suffocating any discussion about Islam and Human Rights. Had a representative of the Pope launched such a motion, the outrage in the western media would undoubtedly have been massive. Scores of commentators would have written about usurpation and censorship. But because the point has been about protecting the Islamic 'religion of peace' from impertinence and protecting Islam from a further endurance test of its peaceableness, there was only a glaring silence to be heard in the Western media." (Aside from Pascal Bruckner's appeal at signandsight.com, of course).

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Saturday 11 - 17 December, 2010

A clutch of German newspapers launch an appeal against the criminalisation of Wikileaks. Vera Lengsfeld remembers GDR dissident Jürgen Fuchs and how he met death in his cell. All the papers were bowled over Xavier Beauvois' film "Of Gods and Men." The FR enjoys a joke but not a picnic at a staging of Stravinsky's "Rake's Progress" in Berlin. Gustav Seibt provides a lurid description of Napoleonic soap in the SZ. German-Turkish Dogan Akhanli author explains what it feels like to be Josef K.
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Saturday 4 - Friday 10 December

Colombian writer Hector Abad defends Nobel Prize laureate Mario Vargas Llosa against European Latin-America romantics. Wikileaks dissident Daniel Domscheit-Berg criticises the new publication policy of his former employer. The Sprengel Museum has put on a show of child nudes by die Brücke artists. The SZ takes a walk through the Internet woods with FAZ prophet of doom Frank Schirrmacher. The FAZ is troubled by Christian Thielemann's unstable tempo in the Beethoven cycle. And the FR meets China Free Press publisher, Bao Pu.
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Saturday 27 November - Friday 3 December

Danish author Frederik Stjernfelt explains how the Left got its culturist ideas. Slavenka Draculic writes about censoring Angelina Jolie who wanted to make a film in Bosnia. Daniel Cohn-Bendit talks   about his friendship, falling out and reconciliation with Jean-Luc Godard. Wikileaks has caused an embarrassed silence in the Arab world, where not even al-Jazeera reported on the what the sheiks really think. Alan Posener calls for the Hannah Arendt Institute in Dresden to be shut down.
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Saturday 20 - Friday 26 November, 2010

The theatre event of the week came in a twin pack: Roland Schimmelpfennig's new play, a post-colonial "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" opened at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin and the Thalia in Hamburg. The anarchist pamphlet "The Coming Insurrection" has at last been translated into German and has ignited the revolutionary sympathies of at least two leading German broadsheets, the FAZ and the SZ. But the taz, Germany's left-wing daily, says the pamphlet is strongly right-wing. What's left and right anyway? came the reply.
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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

A new book chronicles the revolt of revolting "third persons" at Suhrkamp publishers in the wild days of 1968. Necla Kelek is appalled by the speech of the very Christian Christian Wulff, the German president, in Turkey. The taz met a new faction of hardcore Palestinians who are fighting for separate sex hairdressing in Gaza. Sinologist Andreas Schlieker reports on the new Chinese willingness to restructure the heart. And the Cologne band Erdmöbel celebrate the famous halo around the frying pan.
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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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

Saturday 4 - Friday 10 September, 2010

Thilo Sarrazin has buckled under the stress of the past two weeks and resigned from the board of the Central Bank. His book, "Germany is abolishing itself", however, continues to keep Germany locked in a debate about education and immigration and intelligence. Also this week, Mohammed cartoonist Kurt Westergaard has been awarded the M100 prize for defending freedom of opinion. Chancellor Angela Merkel gave a speech at the award ceremony: "The secret of freedom is courage". The FAZ interviewed Westergaard, who expressed his disappointment that the only people who had shown him no support were those of his own class.
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