09/07/2010

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.

Die Welt 03.07.2010

Silke Hohmann celebrates the exhibition "FischGrätenMelkStand" curated by the artist John Bock in Berlin's Temporary Kunsthalle. "The artist is a brilliant curators of other artists' works. He clusters them in groups of his own naming: 'Black Soup in Tinnitus" is a fragile interplay between an installation from Nina Canell and a wall piece by Ingrid Wiener; 'Mother Death with Pepperoni' is the name he has given to the duet between Martin Kippenberger and Heimo Zobernig, where the walls are covered in burnt salami pizzas, and restaurant plate inscribed with classic Kippenberger nonsense sits in the middle of the room, opposite a portrait of the artist scribbled by Zobernig."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 03.07.2010

Tobias Mater reports back from a deeply unsettled Pakistan which, try as it may, is struggling to come to terms with Islamic extremism. This applies for the realm of politics as well as the not insubstantial intellectual milieu: "On a stage in Lahore this evening, half a dozen liberals gathered to discuss the freedom of expression and opinion in the time of war, and the 'talibanisation of thinking' which has taken root in all areas of society. It is not a proper discussion but a series of rather protracted monologues from thinkers who are starting to feel like the last bastion in the fight – not against terrorism, but self-censorship."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 05.07.2010

Noemi Smolik decries the catastrophic legacy of the Milan Knizak, the former head of Prague's National Gallery, which will continue to be felt far into the future. "Tragicomedy is the only word to describe Knizak's collecting activities. When a body of work by Milan Grygar, the documentation of an acoustic performance and one of the key works of 1970s Czech art, went up for sale, it was snapped up by the Centre Pompidou. This was not a one-off incident. Soon you will have to travel to Paris, London or Vienna to see important Czech works of art. All we have are the works by his students."


Die Welt 07.07.2010

If you believe Manuel Brug's description of the latest German conductor crisis, this time at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, then the incumbent Music Director Kent Nagano never had a chance against Nikolas Bachler: "The chemistry between the Austrian director - a man with a mission and history of emerging victorious from intrigues - and the quiet, introverted American conductor, was wrong from the outset. It was clear that it would end in a conflict that would, at least in part, be played out in the public eye." Read more about the controversy here.


From the blogs 07.07.2010

Anette Kahane of the Amadeu-Antonio Foundation describes on the website "Mut gegen rechte Gewalt (courage against right-wing violence) a call she received from a journalist: "In Taucha, Saxony-Anhalt, a teenage boy had been singled out from a group of visitors and beaten up by some right-wing extremists, she told me. They were shouting 'Piss off you shitty Jew' and other obscenities. 'So Frau Kahane, what do you make of this? Is this anti-Semitism?' 'Of course, what else could it be?!' I replied. ''Well,' she said, 'the victim was an Israeli, you know'."


Jungle World 08.07.2010

Magnus Klaue sums up the Berlin Communism Congress. He found it deeply unpleasant that Alain Badiou (and Cecile Winter and Slavoj Zizek) seemed so intent on ascribing a progressive function to Christian anti-Judaism in the fight for universalism: "These three have all decided that in the name of the 'idea of communism', it is time to bid farewell to the view, which stems primarily from critical theory but which was also shared by Jean-Paul Sartre, according to which the fight against anti-Semitic delirium was the a priori to all forms of communism. This is the only satisfactory explanation for Badiou and Zizek's insistence on rehabilitating Christianity - something, one would otherwise expect to scare the living daylights out of even the most conformist member of the cultural Left."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 08.07.2010

The Israeli writer David Grossman, the winner of this year's Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, appeals to Israel to offer Hamas a ceasefire. Whether or not this would have any success, it would be an important gesture: "I really want to think beyond such suggestions and direct people's attention to the motives behind them. In particular, to the feeling that Israel has been trapped in a state of paralysis for many years now, and that this is spreading so rapidly that any one with eyes in their head has to acknowledge the apathy, helplessness and even the gradual disappearance of any healthy instinct for self-preservation. This is the real danger for Israel, and it is much more destructive than anything Hamas has to offer."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 09.07.2010

"Theatre has rarely been so disturbing, fantastical, subversive or beautiful," raves Barbara Villiger Heilig after watching Christoph Marthaler's "Papperlapapp" at the Papal Palace in Avignon. "Fragments of Palestrina and Satie, Wagner and Verdi, Bach and Mozart, Chopin and Liszt enter into a fragile dance which will open the ears of anyone willing to hear. This eclectic mix does not invite you to sing along; instead it points to the silence behind the tones. Marthaler's at once concrete and abstract, physical yet metaphysical world theatre reaches a new dimension here. It compels the audience to abandon old habits of seeing and hearing, and to surrender itself entirely to the here and now: the mysteries of the Papal Palace, the blue night, the balmy air."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 09.07.2010

On Monday, the court in Moscow is due to deliver its verdict in the trial against Yuri Samodurov and Andrei Yerofeyev. The public prosecutor's office and the right-wing 'People's Assembly' group want to see these curators sentenced to three years in a prison camp for their exhibition "Forbidden Art" (more here). As Sonja Zekri explains, the trial is really all about role of the church: "Is the 'People's Assembly' simply voicing the feelings of a 'marginal splinter group' as Yerofeyev recently told journalists at a press conference? Or is this trial 'a moment of truth' (Samodurov) which will reveal the hostility of the Orthodox Church towards modern art? Is the church making a bid to control Russia's cultural life? And if so, why is no one trying to intervene?"

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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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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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