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GoetheInstitute

24/08/2005

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.

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 24.08.2005

The SPD forum "Kultur als Lebensmittel" (culture as provisions) was marked by a cheerful atmosphere, writes Gustav Seibt. Nevertheless he got uneasy seeing Bundestag President Wolfgang Thierse and Minister of State for Culture Christina Weiss chitchatting with artists and intellectuals like Nobel Prize for literature Günter Grass, sculptor Günther Uecker, poster artist Klaus Staeck and theatre director Jürgen Flimm. "My uneasy feeling had to do with the shocking, downright brazen self-righteousness above all in the artistic contingent. Cosmopolitan, smartly dressed and successful, they sat there and raved about how the chancellor was always so congenial... Flimm was thrilled that in the Ruhrpott, Germany's former industrial heartland, where he leads the RuhrTriennale theatre, dance and music festival, the factories were turned into wonderful theatrical venues. Apparently a state-subsidised theatre luminary cannot imagine that turning industrial sites into theatres is a problem in Germany."

Thomas Steinfeld pans Michel Houellebecq's new novel "The Possibility of an Island" (more here): "It is a lamento, one big document of self-pity, the response of an almost 50-year-old writer to the fact that his companion has become wrinkled and that, after she's left him like an animal holing up to die, he's not even desirable for the most willing of women."


Der Tagesspiegel, 24.08.2005


The Tagesspiegel publishes a delightful article by Hungarian-born author and playwright George Tabori, who reminisces about meeting Thomas Mann in California in the late 1940s. One occasion was at a reading by German author Lion Feuchtwanger in his luxurious villa in Los Angeles, where Mann promptly fell asleep: "At the end we all applauded enthusiastically. Thomas Mann woke up and also clapped politely. Later he took me aside and pointed to Feuchtwanger's villa, the expensive furniture, the wonderful garden and said: 'He earned it all with his writing, all of it. With nothing but crap.'"


Die Welt, 24.08.2005

In an interview with Reinhard Wengierek, director Andrea Breth explains how she likes her theatre, even if she doesn't come across it any more. "We put ourselves 60 centimetres over other people. And if we have nothing to say, then we shouldn't put ourselves there. I'm talking about the presence or absence of God; I'm talking about the presence of Utopia. Everything is absent. We don't have anything else. And in this hollowness, we simply lurch from one event to the next. I need tranquillity. I want to go back to the source, to feel the skin, the eyes, that something is there - a sound, a word. The autumn leaf falls. But everything is still loud. We live in an event-society."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 24.08.2005

Marli Feldvoss has seen the new film "Dear Wendy", a cooperation between Lars von Trier (screenplay) and Thomas Vinterberg (director). It is about six young people who form a secret society called the "Dandy Club". "In a disused mine, they practice marksmanship and create their own little world dressing in fantasy costumes. Pacifists, despite carrying guns, their code of conduct states: never use a weapon outside its intended terrain." For Feldvoss, the film is a "perceptive political allegory light years away from Vinterberg's modern Oresteia 'Festen' and the long-gone 'dogma movement'. 'Dear Wendy' juxtaposes the revolt of the disenfranchised and suppressed – the innocent - with their apparent fascist infatuation and fundamental radicalism. With its blood-thirsty showdown the film is, however, completely in the shadow of September 11th."

Mb. attended a discussion about artist Xiao Yu's work "foetus object", on show at Bern's Fine Arts Museum. Xiao Yu used part of a seagull's body and the head of a human foetus for the work (see picture) which was temporarily removed from the "Mahjong" exhibition. "All the podium members agreed the work had not had any adverse effect on human dignity. To sum up the discussion's outcome: with its harshness the object is merely a reflection of contemporary society with all its fractures and faults, whether in China or the Western world."


Wim Wenders' "Don't Come Knocking"...

Writing in the SZ, Fritz Göttler is delighted at Wim Wenders' western "Don't Come Knocking": "A small American fairy tale about a guy who goes off to find himself and meets a son he didn't know about and a daughter no one had told him of. Right from the start Howard is like a happy-go-lucky fairy tale figure, in his strange barter with an old-timer in an abandoned post station in the Utah desert. Howard offers his noble spurs in exchange for old man's shirt and vest. Then he gives him his boots, his jacket and hat, and finally also the horse he came riding up on, a beautiful gelding." Perhaps the film is no masterpiece, writes Göttler, but it is a "wonderful, changing, inexplicable fairy tale."

"In fact nothing could go wrong with this film", writes Michael Althen in the FAZ about Wenders' new film, which like "Paris, Texas" is based on a screenplay by Sam Shephard. But despite Shephard's help, Althen is not overly impressed: "Understandably, the two didn't want to repeat themselves. But still they couldn't quite come up with something really new. In the male figure, who like Odysseus is continually on the move and yet only wants to come home, the inner yearnings of the American and the German evidently still find common ground."

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