02/06/2005

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.

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 02.06.2005

For writer and Islamic scholar Navid Kermani, the defensive attitude with which people are increasingly talking about Europe is directed against all those who no longer, or who do not yet, belong to the European "We". This gives Kermani cause for concern. "In becoming less open, this 'We' loses an important feature: The basic European values are not tied to any specific origin or religion. In principal, they are of a universal nature. What is specific to them is that they – in contrast to the values of a religious community or the old European national states – can be shared by people of different ancestry and culture.... But nowadays, in Germany and in the rest of Western Europe, politicians who evoke fears instead of prospects are gaining ground. Rather than pushing countries to comply with EU standards, they define criteria for exclusion. People should pay more attention to CDU Chancellor candidate Angela Merkel's comments on the referendum in France (that it should spark renewed critical debate on Turkey's entry in the EU – ed), and less attention to her recently discovered smile. Here is someone who wants to win an election by voicing doubts instead of acting on them."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 02.06.2005

Joachim Güntner is perplexed by the reaction of the Left to Angela Merkel's candidacy for the chancellorship. "Alone the fact that the conservative camp has scored a historical first in the realm of women's empowerment must make the Left squirm and then shame itself. All that's to be seen, however, is the displeasure and none of the shame.... Commentators of the Left prefer not to mention the uncomfortable fact that the first woman to qualify as chancellor has come from the political milieu of the CDU/CSU."


Franfurter Rundschau, 02.06.2005

"The chronic characterisation of Angela Merkel as a little girl, the interpretation of the future chancellor candidate based on the tedious tales of her childhood, as a straight A student, phlegmatic athlete, inconspicuous FDJer (the East German equivalent to the Girl Guides) must have historical reasons," writes Ursula März in a text on the public perception of Angela Merkel, who for years has been depicted in the German media as (former Chancellor) Kohl's "little girl". "She personifies the state of diffuse unfulfillment that German society has been in since the 90s. But in the image of her political person, this unfulfillment takes on a positive colour. The colour of expectation. The colour of girliness."


Die Zeit, 02.06.2005

"Who is thinking for the CDU?" asks Jens Jessen in the lead article. Nobody, if we're to believe him, at least no intellectual. Nor is the CDU looking for anyone. Jessen quotes Angela Merkel (the party's chairwoman and candidate for the coming federal election): "'Because art and culture support the mental capabilities and the willingness for social participation in reform processes, cultural policy must be applied broadly.' Which means, in concrete terms: the future cultural policy of the CDU will support art and culture as long as it encourages the population to back reforms. Or does it mean something else? If ever one doubted that the CDU is a conservative party, then this Leninistic wish that those working in the cultural sector prepare the country for new economic policy demonstrates that the party has departed conclusively from conservatism."

Evelyn Finger writes a portrait of Russian choreographer Olga Pona, whose dance troupe performs this week in the In Transit dance, music and theatre festival in Berlin. Pona hails from Chelyabinsk in Western Siberia, where she studied mechanical engineering in the late 70s. "Right after graduating with honours she deserted to the Academy of Arts however, where she studied dance pedagogy. Today she leads the only Russian company whose success in Western Europe is not based on the classic style of the Ballets Russes. While the Bolshoi and Marinski theatre are still exporting their late-aristocratic onion-tower aesthetics, Olga Pona has developed her personal variety of contemporary dance in the Siberian hinterland – far from the choreographic avant-garde. Her dynamic style counters both the theory-laden West and the aesthetic ideals of Socialist Realism."


Der Tagesspiegel, 02.06.2005

The Tagespiegel has published Lars von Trier's defence of his decision to pull out of the Wagner festival in Bayreuth next year: his plan not to let anybody see anything of his "Ring" cycle would have been too complicated to stage. "The essence of illusion is that it does not exist; or more correctly, it only exists in the mind of the spectator. How do we put it there? Simply by implication. By showing things that cause the spectator to deduce and 'see' the illusion that is precisely not shown. It is simple dramaturgy: if A via B leads to C, we show A and C, and let the spectator deal with B! It's the simple recipe for conjuring tricks. ... It doesn’t take much brainpower to deduce from this that all that is really interesting about the Ring cannot be seen! Like conjuring tricks, the visual mythology is a definite B! So I concluded without hesitation that the ultimate production would have to take place in total darkness! ... But to a director, in addition to being consistent, total darkness is also rather meager and unsatisfactory. And anyway, Wagner's words also include a small but very important and far-reaching number of stage directions. And to make this long story a bit shorter, permit me to take this chance to present my scenic conclusion! A conclusion partly in line with 'theatre noire' but which I would rather call direction using 'enriched darkness'." (You find the whole text in English here)


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 02.06.2005

"Ten years of Dogma were enough. Now is the time for a revolt of the undogmatists," declares Andreas Kilb. And fast! "The window of opportunity for an aesthetic rebellion is closing today, in so far as the cinema industry is being deconstructed by DVD and pay per view. But the fact that film is increasingly privatised on the one hand and relegated to museums on the other also represents the potential for a new impulse. Rather than coming from the margins, from Africa or Asia, it could come from the very heart of the cinema industry. And it could burst the existing moribund structures – a New Hollywood, one of hackers and collectors."

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