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14/06/2005

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.

Die Tageszeitung, 14.06.2005

Belarus may be the last dictatorship in Europe, but it's also home to an incredibly active culture scene, as Ingo Petz reports from Minsk. "The official stages and media are not allowed to present Belarussian culture. Non-state publications are banned and then re-appear under a new name, banned again, reappear again. 'It's a game of cat and mouse,' says Sjarhej Sacharau, editor in chief of the famous student newspaper Studenckaja Dumka. 'How often have I heard that what we do in our paper is amoral.' Rather than direct political confrontation, Sacharau has found his own way to deal with critique. 'If politicians tell you who you'll have bad sex with and who you'll have good sex with, then any critical alternative to this missionary position is considered a protest. And that is of course cool – being able to combine the useful and the pleasurable: to have sex with whoever you wish and however you wish, knowing that in so doing, you're opposing Lukaschenko's politics. That's why we call it the Revolution 69!' Not everyone is that creative. For others, the cultural war is frustrating, demoralising – like for the extremely talented poet Anatoli Syz. At some point, he decided to drink himself to death. A few weeks ago he succeeded."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 14.06.2005


Lutz Windhöfel describes the plan of the pharmaceutical company Novartis to build a research campus in Basel North. The first building, recently completed, is an administrative building by Diener & Diener which has a "highly complex glass facade, designed and installed by Swiss painter Helmut Federle and Austrian architect Gerold Wiederin. Seen from a distance under a clear summer sky, the facade forms a sensual geometric abstraction. In the diffuse light of late fall, the colour fields, which often overlap to form mixed tones, recall Paul Klee's water colours from the Bauhaus years." An exhibition of the Novartis campus is to be seen in the Basel Museum of Architecture.


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 14.06.2005

Martin Heidegger brought Nazism into philosophy, argues Emmanuel Faye in his book "Heidegger, l'introduction du nazisme dans la philosophie", which has already received much critical attention in France. Historian Kurt Flasch welcomes Faye's "clever and elaborate provocation", because it forces Heideggerians to get down off their high horses and engage in basic textual work. "Heidegger emphatically restated essential tenets of National Socialist doctrine as his own philosophy: a folkish vision of the historical mission of the German people, the metaphysics of blood and soil, the role of the Führer as the sole law governing German life, and the right of the German Volk to expand its territory."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 14.06.2005

Christian Schwägerl met the "Chinese population architect", deputy health minister and head of the Chinese family planning commission Zhao Baige, who gave astonishingly liberal answers to reporters' questions. The one child policy is to be eased, as sheer population numbers are no longer the major problem. Much worse are demographic problems like "the ageing population, and the distorted gender ratio. In Western countries, this ratio is 100 girls to 106 boys. In China the ratio is 107 boys to 100 girls, and for the second child more than 150 boys to 100 girls. This creates a dangerous imbalance, and the threat of unrest among the mass of dissatisfied men."


Die Welt, 14.06.2005

Johnny Erling speaks with Uli Sigg, whose collection of contemporary Chinese art, one of the largest in the world, is now being shown in the Kunstmuseum Bern. For Sigg the art market in China is taking off under communist rule. "A peculiar dividing line runs right through Chinese cultural production. For example you can buy socialist realism and art from the cultural revolution at auctions. But since 1976, important works from those days have no longer been exhibited. First the cultural authorities combated avant-garde art, then they ignored it. That only changed with the pressure from outside." Sigg sees a specific type of modernity in Chinese art: "It's not in the paper or the way of painting a landscape. It's in the ability to find new artistic forms without copying them. Chinese artists show unique sensibility and emotion in their observation. Figurative painting predominates. Chinese artists hardly take an analytic approach to their medium, and produce little abstract art. The past ideology also plays a role there."


Der Tagesspiegel, 14.06.2005

Gregor Dotzauer went to a concert by French singer and actress Jeanne Balibar in Berlin's Rote Salon and was inspired to poetic heights: "She stood on the ship's bow, her shoulders bent to the horizon, and sang 'Le tour du monde' with her eyes closed. The more distant she became, the better we could hear her. The more she was enshrouded by darkness, the clearer we could see her. Her arms and legs were covered with letters, whole phrases adorned her skin. Looking closer we saw sentences from books by Jules Verne." Dotzauer's emotion reached a highpoint at the concert's end: "They cast off as the night was at its deepest. The sky opened above the Rote Salon, the sea washed against it, and the capstan groaned until a heavy wind drowned out the other ship's noises. We stood on the shore, too weak to wave and too weak to weep, finding it hard to bear as Jeanne Balibar and her men sailed away."

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