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14/09/2005

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, 14.09.2005

FAZ editor Frank Schirrmacher goes into the breach for Paul Kirchhof, the professor of finance and former constitutional court judge, who after being much touted as the CDU's shadow finance minister is now falling from grace in favour of financial expert and party man Friedrich Merz. "The Kirchhof case is filling the vacuum of a political discourse that is either not saying what it wants, or does not know what it wants or is allowed to want. This no longer applies solely to the ruling SPD, now that Kirchhof has been so curiously abandoned by the party he aided on their bidding, even though he himself was not a member. The SPD, for its part, deserves admiration for once more succeeding in turning medicine into poison. But that a gifted orator and man of intellect should, so to speak, exemplarily be treated as some kind of professorial dreamer by his own camp is something else altogether."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 14.09.2005

Günter Grass can always be relied on for his support of the SPD in the run-up to the elections. The paper reproduces an abbreviated version of the speech with which he is currently touring Germany. "I will vote for the Red-Green coalition because they are protecting us from war and they have proved that they have the courage to go through with difficult and painful reforms, and because there is nothing better in Germany. I will vote for the Social Democrats because they stand on the side of society's weak and know they must protect us from falling into American class relations."


Frankfurter Rundschau, 14.09.2005

In an interview, Israeli historian Tom Segev discusses the significance of Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the implications for Zionism. "What we are observing now is a conflict between fundamental values, a sort of cultural struggle, which reflects the different Zionist approaches. One is more the original: pragmatic, realistic and open to compromise. Everything that Zionism represented until 1967. Since then however, another branch has emerged, a messianic, religious, ideological form." The withdrawal represents "a victory for the pragmatic, rational Israelis over the messianic settlers. You could say that Tel Aviv has triumphed over Jerusalem, the 5,000 year old city built on rock. Tel Aviv is just 100 years old, and it's built on sand. These are two different worlds and this is the real division in Israel. The clearance is of little concern to large swathes of Israeli society. It will not traumatise them, only the settlers."


Berliner Zeitung, 14.09.2005

Ulrich Seidler interviews the renowned theatre director Peter Stein, whose staging of Parts One and Two of Goethe's "Faust" at the 2001 Hanover Expo lasted 23 hours. Now Stein is working on his next mega-project, Schiller's "Wallenstein", to be premiered in Frankfurt in 2007. Asked if the relationship of a director to his play is like that of a man to a woman, Weiss answers: "The problem with these erotic comparisons is that I always end up saying such cockeyed, pubertarian things. Let's leave it at the word 'pleasure'. The most important thing is not the work, which is why I find the expression 'true to the original' so stupid. What really interests me is the person who wrote it. Not as a biographical figure, but as a creative spirit. This rapprochement is the real thrill for me, even an erotic thrill: that I can associate with Aeschylus, that he can speak to me and tell me what he feels. That's the really mystic thing in theatre, this contact with the dead. That's what really interests me about theatre."


Die Tageszeitung, 14.09.2005


Georg Seeßlen reviews Christian Petzold's film "Gespenster" (ghosts) a tale of people losing and finding each other set at the centre of the new Berlin on Potsdamer Platz. "It's astounding how Petzold pulls us in, into images which point both ways: on the one hand, to a reality which a normal person perceives only in the rarest moment of frenetic exhaustion, in the sensitive disenchantment which follows a highpoint in one's life or in times of intense personal searching.... And on the other, to the fairy tale which, here too, begins with the crossing of a boundary, the discovery of a magic object, and fearful astonishment. Here nothing is quite as it seems." The film is buoyed along by the music of Bach which, Seeßlen claims, is "the answer to the despondency of central Europe."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 14.09.2005

Karolina Dankow reports with a spot of schadenfreude on the uproar that the Kunstforum Ostdeutsche Galerie has provoked in Regensburg with its exhibition of contemporary Polish art. In their works the young artists make light of an intimate enemy: the Catholic Church. "Since the end of the communist regime, the Catholic Church has been fighting subversive positions as fiercely as the communists did. As a result contemporary artists sometimes find themselves in a difficult position, faced with surveillance and censorship. For example, Dorota Nieznalska, a former student of Grzegorz Klaman also featured in the show, was sentenced in 2003 to six months of community work after showing her work 'Passion' (more here). This portrays a shining cross which has male genitals on it. Her work in the Regensburg show is a video installation involving the artist naked in a position of prayer."

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