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23/08/2005

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, 23.08.2005

Andreas Kilb reports from the German Chancellery gardens, where the Schröder party elite gathered for the presentation of a statue by Swedish sculptor Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd showing a huge revolver with a knotted barrel. Nobel Prize winning author Günter Grass delivered the inaugural speech, "referring to the American president who sees himself 'as a cowboy slinging a smoking Colt in the fight against evil'. As he speaks, these sound like fighting words. But the more they fade away, the more clearly you hear the undertone of the subaltern delivering taunts amongst garden chairs. This is how the Armenian court poets must have railed against Rome in the first century A.D. 'No one listens to us in the capital.'"

Israeli author Amos Oz writes on the situation in Israel after the evacuation of the Gaza Strip settlements: "For almost forty years, Israel and Palestine have been like a jailer and a prisoner chained to each other with handcuffs. After so many years there is hardly any difference between the two. The jailer isn't free, and neither is the prisoner. Israel will only be a free country once the occupation and the settlements come to an end, and Palestine has become an independent neighbour state."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 23.08.2005


Egbert Tholl does not regret the arduous trip to Ramallah for one second. The sole theatre on the West Bank was filled to overflowing, because conductor Daniel Barenboim was performing with his Israeli-Arab-Spanish West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. "Barenboim sweats, jumps around on the podium and fidgets with the partitions on the first music stands. He has an infernal gleam in his eye, and after the intermission he delivers the most impressive performance of Beethoven's fifth symphony that has ever been given anywhere. During the applause he strikes up the symphony's famous first notes, 'fate knocking at the door'. Now it sounds like hammering on the wall surrounding Ramallah. 'Freedom for Palestine' is the motto of the concert. But the fulminating, staggering, incredibly dynamic performance heralds a freedom that goes much deeper. (...) There may have been finer performances of the fifth symphony, but there was never one more enthralling."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 23.08.2005

Already in 1968 Syrian poet Sadiq al-Azm criticized the Arab world for its authoritarianism, religious dogma and discrimination against women. Christian Meier asks al-Azm whether anything has changed since then. "I wouldn't say nothing has changed. For example, far more girls go to school today and the number of women who are well-educated and successful in their careers has also risen. But all these changes haven't managed to create a critical mass which would take Arab society to a new level. These examples remain one-off successes." Furthermore, al-Azm believes, "colonialism, imperialistic exploitation and Palestine are all being used by the Arab regimes in order to preserve the status quo, to continue their repressive methods and in order to squander the wealth of the Arabic world."


Frankfurter Rundschau, 23.08.2005

Berlin's 1920s-era Metropol nightspot is set to re-open in November in its new incarnation as the elite "Goya" nightclub. The club on the city's 'Nollendorfplatz' has been designed by architect Hans Kollhof and restaurateur Peter Glückstein. Ursula März has had a look and is absolutely gobsmacked. "It won't just be Berlin's biggest club. It will be Germany's biggest club. And to class it as a club is not even right. Visitors to Goya will find themselves in a cathedral-sized space with ceilings 13 metres high, a main floor spanning 450 square metres, two minstrel gallery balconies with various bars and separate, self contained restaurant and lounge. As you would expect with a Kollhof design, the space is full of columns." The club functions as a public limited company. There are 2,000 shareholders for whom the second balcony floor is reserved. "From there, the shareholders can look down as the paying guests enter, like high class aristocrats, and watch as they enjoy a three euro beer."


Die Tageszeitung, 23.08.2005

Sandra Fimmel tells of her travels to Elista, the capital of the Republic of Kalmykia in Russia. "Today Elista, meaning 'city in the sand', is a city amongst sand sculptures. The Buddhist-inspired structures hail from a sculpture symposium which took place four times between 1996 and 1998. According to the then culture minister, Nikolai Sandschiew, the sculptures were part of efforts to make the city more appealing. Now the entire city is alive with the sandy, folkloric Buddha figures, lions and camels. For Kalmyk citizens, they have the same effect as the Berlin bears lurking all over the German capital... Since Kalmykia was completely destroyed in the battle of Stalingrad, basic town planning insists on the construction of typical Buddhist buildings. Admittedly this is problematic, because original Kalmyk architecture is limited to the mobile nomadic tent, the 'yurt'."

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