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15/06/2005

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, 15.06.2005

Historian Hans-Ulrich Wehler explains in an interview the reasons for the growing EU scepticism: "Politicians have not yet succeeded in explaining to voters the entry of the ten Eastern European countries. It would have taken some patience, but they could have followed the example of Franklin Roosevelt. At the beginning of the New Deal, he explained to Americans on the radio why there was now a need for something new. These Fireside Chats were hugely effective – but European politicians have not achieved anything of the sort. The entry of the ten is doubtless a burden on the old states of the Union. But instead of showing why this entry was necessary, the merits it brings and what historical ties we have to these countries, it was just treated as a matter of course. That has now been avenged."

The taz has a special feature today on the highly developed Internet censorship in China. First George Blume describes several cases of successful large-scale censorship. Then he takes a lesson from Xu Xing on how to become an Internet guerillero. "'Everyone knows how to steer clear of the problematic terms.' Xu Xing, the most famous writer of the 1989 student generation, has written his blogs for years without being challenged by the state authorities. It's easy, he says: For example if you write the characters for the Chinese Communist Party, you press the space bar between each character. And the censors are powerless! Anyone with any experience has tricks like that up his sleeve."

Ingeborg de Vries is furious that the artist Gregor Schneider was forced by political pressure to dismantle his installation at the Biennale in Venice. In recalling the Kaaba in Mecca, it was considered a provocation to Muslims and thus a security risk - or so the authorities argue. "That is the classic phantasma of the European Bohemian when it comes to fundamentalist terror: let sleeping dogs lie! No debate please... no pride in the (not only aesthetic) freedom of liberal democracies, no courage to display the piece precisely because the irritating installation brings with it a potential danger of terror - and not to ban it, as though something would be gained in doing so."


Die Welt, 15.06.2005


The artist himself is quoted in an article by Walter Haubrich: "'Provocation was not my goal,' says Schneider, 'I'm interested in space.' He's also fascinated by the formal proximity of the Kaaba to the canon of minimalist art. 'They might have more to do with each other than we know,' says Schneider. During the planning, he sought the advice of strict religious Muslims. He's more interested in the dialogue of cultures than confrontation. The artist is now considering realising his piece in London or in front of the Reichstag in Berlin."


Frankfurter Rundschau, 15.06.2005

Daniel Kothenschulte comments on the aquittal of Michael Jackson: "The jurors took 30 long hours over seven days to prove the 'reasonable doubt' – and ironically in doing so they cemented it for good. Couldn't they have called all this nonsense by name from the start? Quite obviously Jackson fell into the hands of a crooked clan, that had already wheedled more than 150,000 dollars from a supermarket chain in an out of court settlement for alleged sexual harassment by the security guards. Even Jackson, who was subject to out-and-out exploitation in his childhood, did not have such malicious parents as this unfortunate chief witness. Add to that a public prosecutor who hunted Jackson with the dogged persistence of Elmer Fudd hunting Bugs Bunny. But over the extended hunting season, Jackson became less able to play the cute and agile little bunny. Incapable of expressing his bitterness, in the end he was reminiscent of the title figure in Victor Hugo's novel 'The Man who Laughed' – who in fact had to show a face that had been disfigured by a ghastly operation."


Berliner Zeitung, 15.06.2005

Pro-reform President Chatami's taking of office "marked a turning point in the Iranian art scene," writes Martina Doering, who visited the Museum for Contemporary Art in Teheran. "Painters, drawers and sculptors who previously had to hide their work – which was considered un-Islamic and un-heroic by the state leadership - are coming into public view. Young artists are conquering new areas, employing new means and possibilities of expression, whether with video, installations or concept art. Dozens of galleries and art centres have sprung up; Biennales, national art expos and trade fairs have been organised." But Museum director Sami Azar fears that this will soon end because the next president, to be elected on June 17, will probably be a conservative.


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 15.06.2005

Does the German expressionist "Brücke" group, currently the subject of major exhibitions marking the hundred years of its founding - including a major show "'Brücke' and Berlin: 100 Years of Expressionism" at the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin – have a darker side to its past? Historian Christian Saehrendt gives evidence for links between expressionism and nationalistic and National Socialist ideas. This episode of 20th century art had been widely ignored, Saehrendt argues, due to the Nazi's ostracism and condemnation of expressionist painters and their work. "In the summer of 1933 the supporters of German expressionism, by this time a heterogeneous coalition of museum employees, gallery owners, Nazi Party members and artists, saw the chance to create a place in the sun for the 'Brücke' group under the Nazis, by calling it 'Nordic expressionism'... But Hitler soon decided otherwise, identifying expressionistic art with the hated Weimar Republic. The familiar stigmatisation of expressionism as 'degenerate' then ensued." Christian Saehrendt is author of the book "'Die Brücke' zwischen Staatskunst und Verfemung" (The 'Brücke' – between state art and outlawry.")

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