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15/05/2009

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.

Frankfurter Rundschau 09.05.2009

Iranian-German writer and columnist Navid Kermani and political scientist Claus Leggewie discuss immigration society, multiculturalism and art. The FR prints chunks of the conversation. Leggewie names Mark Rothko as an example of an multi-ethnic artist who made culture rather than interculture. In Germany, Kermani replies, this could not happen. "Someone like Rothko would constantly have to give his opinion on Putin, he would have to defend himself for Chechnya and by virtue of his background, he would be called upon as an expert for the Orthodox Church. Everyone in Germany, who is involved in the culture business but who doesn't have German parents, knows this phenomenon and they are swimming in a sea of invitations to talk on multicultural topics. But when the talk turns to Goethe, the Meiers and Schulzes stick to themselves." Read more articles by Navid Kermani.


Süddeutsche Zeitung 09.05.2009

Gerhard Matzig sees a potential architectural revolution in the making. Concrete – a material that is obviously close to Matzig's heart – has a new face. It is now translucent (images) and is being used in Mexico on a grand scale. "Concrete, which revolutionised architectural history in both antiquity and modernity (as reinforced concrete), could be about to cause a third furore – this time around with image change. Because now we are seeing the light. This new translucent concrete, which has been in development for several years now, is being deployed on a massive scale in Mexico City and it will impact energy efficiency, facade design and aesthetics in general. If the experiment succeeds, architecture will change again."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung
09.05.2009

Christoph Egger enthuses about the Ingmar Bergman Archives, a monumental paean to the Swedish film director, and he recounts how Bergman reacted to niggling critics: "...More extreme still were Mads Mandrup-Nielsen's slanderous remarks about 'Scenes from a Marriage' in 1973. His endless formulations were met with a plain 'No' from Bergman every time, until he commented: 'I am starting to ask myself whether there's some truth to what people say, that you cannot tolerate any objective, seriously-intended criticism'. Bergman finally answered: 'I cannot tolerate your criticism. You make me want to hit you.'"


Neue Zürcher Zeitung
11.05.2009

Manfred Clemenz visited the Musee d'Antibes which is celebrating its reopening with a retrospective of the Antibes works by Pablo Picasso. "In the show's artistically most convincing room there are female nudes showing Picasso's audacious constructions of the female form. 'Nu assis sur fond vert', 'Nu couche au lit bleu', 'Nu couche au lit blanc'. This last painting caught the eye of Matisse. He praised it, sketched it and then turned to Picasso: 'I understand why you painted the head like that, but what have you done to her behind?"

Marta Kijowska looks at the burgeoning success of women writers in Poland. Back in 2004, when publishers were raking in cash with chick-lit hits, the critic Przemyslaw Czaplinski complained that novels written by women were boring and petty bourgeois. "This blanket rebuff was certainly unjustified because recent years have seen the publication of all number of excellent books by women. One particularly impressive example is the delayed breakthrough of the political cabaret writer Joanna Olczak-Ronikier (born 1934), whose prize-winning family drama 'In the Garden of Memory', catapulted her into the literary premiere league. Since last year, the journalist Malgorzata Szejnert (born 1936) has been following in her footsteps, with two books that have earned her the title of master of historical reportage. 'The Black Garden', a brilliantly researched portrait of the Silesian workers' settlement, Giszowiec, brought her rave reviews, and she had everyone talking about her again this spring when she published her reportage about the legendary New York immigration quarantine unit, Ellis Island.


Frankfurter Rundschau 13.05.2009

Julia Kospach talks to the grand old man of the nature documentary, David Attenborough, who is a passionate believer that Darwin's theory of natural selection is the truth. He will give any creationist a run for his money: "The creationists' heads are filled with beautiful creatures like humming birds when they think of the creation story. I tell them that I always have to think about a child in East Africa whose eyeball had been buried through by a worm. This is the only way this worm can exist – by burying into eyeballs. I find it pretty difficult to reconcile such a thing with the idea of a benevolent, godly creator."


Die Welt 14.05.2009

The oldest sculpture in the world has been found in the Swabian Alps, a carved figure of a woman, six centimetres high in mammoth ivory. Berthold Seewald discusses the find with researcher Nicholas Conard: "Like most early female figurines she doesn't have a head and there's little detail to her legs. But her sexual features are very prominent: the breasts are large and the vulva is pronounced. It is a representation of womanhood rather than an individual person. This is always the case with early sculptures of women. And if they have a head, they have no face."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 14.05.2009

The Hessian Culture Prize for inter-religious dialogue was to go this year to the Catholic Cardinal Lehmann, the president of the Evangelical Church, Peter Steinacker, the vice president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Salomon Korn, and the Muslim writer Navid Kermani. Actually, Fuat Sezgin was initially nominated as the Muslim, but he declined because of Salomon Korn's comments about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Now the Catholic and the Protestant are refusing to share the prize with the ersatz Muslim, Navid Kermani, after reading an article he wrote about Guilo Reni's painting of the crucifixion, as Joachim Günther reports. Kermani wrote: "For me, however, the cross is a symbol which I cannot accept theologically. Other people can believe what they want, I certainly don't know better. But when I pray in a church, I take care never to pray to the cross. But then I found myself sitting in front of the altarpiece by Guido Reni in the church of San Lorenzo in Lucina, and I found the image so enchanting, so full of mercy, that I was reluctant to leave. For the first time I thought: I – not just 'one' – I could believe in the cross." But thanks to the inter-religious understanding of Lehmann and Steinacker, Kermani will not be awarded the prize. Surely it should be the other way round?


Neue Zürcher Zeitung
15.05.2009

On the media pages, Heribert Seifert assesses the German online election campaign. And what does he find? Films of party conferences and public appearances by politicians. But a dialogue with the citizens? No chance. "The marginal role played Web 2.0 in the political race is a result of politicians' ineptitude and lack of familiarity with net-specific communication forms. The 'transparent strategy and amalgamation of communication, development and organisation' that the Internet magazine Telepolis described as the feature of Obama's online campaign, is nowhere to be seen. German parties and politicians seldom or never manage to get the right mixture of authenticity and informal address that is required online."

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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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