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01/07/2005

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.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 01.07.2005

A group of German writers have warned against the populist spirit of the "Linkspartei", the new leftist alliance spearheaded by Gregor Gysi (former chairman of the PDS, the successor to the Communist Party of East Germany) and Oskar Lafontaine (former SPD finance minister and rival of Chancellor Schröder). Regina Mönch today asks why nobody gets up in arms when Lafontaine uses the word "Fremdarbeiter" (a populist word meaning foreign workers, with strong racist associations for German ears as it was the euphemism for "Zwangsarbeiter", the workers in the Nazi labour camps). She asks Monika Maron, one of the writers who signed the public condemnation published yesterday in die Welt, what motivated her to take action. "What makes this coalition so dangerous, why it is necessary to warn people about it, is the leftist mask. The parties and groups of the far Right are outlawed, and the great majority of people would never join the Right to try to bring about more security or justice. The Left coalition deludes people into thinking they're on the right side, although with their backs to the future. Were they to turn 180 degrees and look forward, to Europe and a globalised world, they would, probably to their horror, find themselves on the Right wing of society."

After conducting the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig for the last seven years, Herbert Blomstedt will give his last concert, Bruckner's eighth symphony, tonight. Eleonore Büning describes the changes since Blomstedt took over from Kurt Masur, who had been Kapellmeister for 26 years before him. "It seems wonderfully rejuvenated, not only in certain sections around fifty musicians were hired under Blomstedt but above all in its spirit. A 'new we-feeling' (Blomstedt) has formed, a common sense of identity. 'That fewer mistakes happen now is not what really counts. More important is that the musicians are more attentive, they listen to each other more, and don't just act on orders from above.'" Blomsted admits the orchestra sounds better now than under his predecessor. "'There's a clear difference if a composer like Brahms writes piano or piano dolce or piano expressivo. The piano is often in the leading parts, and the accompanying parts play piano dolce, that's almost an entire degree softer, on the way to pianissimo. You can only do something like that properly if you really practice."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 01.07.2005


After the French and Dutch rejection of the European constitution, Europe will "gradually take on a real existence, even for Central and Eastern Europeans," according to writer Richard Wagner. "This is the view especially among younger generations, as author Yuri Andrukhovych puts it ambiguously: 'Initiation through the supermarket, the special ritual that brings Western values to the Homo Sovieticus, was the real turning point.' Even the concept of Europe does not remain unaffected by this new design for social existence. The European reality gains in popularity because people's expectations of it are more oriented towards their everyday interests than to the European dream."

On the film page, Heinz Kersten reports on the Moscow International Film Festival, and was particularly impressed by Sergei Potyomkin's "Sunless City": "It tells the story of an engineer who falls in love with an amateur actress and drug addict, whose brother dies of Aids. The film gives insights into St. Petersburg bohemia, and is also a homage to the absurdist poet Daniil Charms, who died of hunger during the blockade of Leningrad."

On the media page, Irena Ristic congratulates the people from Crossradio, a group of independent alternative and youth radio stations from all parts of the former Yugoslavia, on their 200th programme. One of the founding members, Dejan Ubovic, sees the project as part of a step towards European integration which "has to come from the inside and cannot be indoctrinated downwards by politicians. He believes there has to be an understanding at the grass roots level and in people's hearts before it's possible to tackle the Europe project. For Ubovic, who comes from Belgrade, 'the fact that we founded Crossradio together with Radio Student in Ljubljana and Zagreb on our own initiative and to meet our own needs, is certainly one of the main reasons for our success'."


Die Tageszeitung, 01.07.2005

Kathrin Kruse attended the men's fashion shows in Florence and Milan. Aside from the new collections, the words on everybody's lips were, "'tradition, tradition, tradition.'" Some play it up, others have to play it down, but since the relaxation of the textile export quotas for China at the beginning of the year, the emphasis is on communicating 'Made in Italy' loud and clear. Simon Collins of Kinross Cashmere, whose clothes are produced almost exclusively in China, believes that in ten years time there will be no Italian or Scottish spinning mills left, heritage or not. But, he says, it's still necessary to have a Western face to sell cashmere 'made in China'. Sometimes even that's not enough. A Japanese buyer approaches to feel his way through the collection. The moment he sees Chinese production, he's gone."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 01.07.2005

In an interview with Alex Rühle, Björk describes her favourite scene from the film "Drawing Restraint 9" which she has just made with her husband, artist Matthew Barney. The scene involves them cutting off each others' lower bodies. "This mutilation has nothing horrible about it, it's part of a transformation. When we cut into each other, the open flesh is not human flesh any more. It's white like whale flesh. Our legs drop off, we grow foetus-like tails and then we become whales and swim off towards the Antarctic."

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