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GoetheInstitute

31/10/2005

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.

Monday 31 October, 2005

Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 31.10.2005


Paul Jandl reports enthusiastically from the Vienna Film Festival Viennale, where he saw some highlights of working class cinema. "Michael Glawogger's 'Workingman's Death' shows Ukrainian mine workers, Nigerian butchers and Pakistani welders; these are images of existential futility which are complemented by one of the most subtle contributions to this festival. Cristi Puius' 'Moartea Domnului Lazarescu' shows the slow death of poor Mr. Lazarescu in a precisely filmed night drive to the various clinics of Bucharest. 'I am the margins,' yells the Brazilian garbage collector Estamira from the mountains of rubbish. At the end of the Viennale, Marcos Prado's documentation of insanity and poverty in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro is awarded the Fipresci Prize of international film critics."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 31.10.2005

When you arrive at Berlin's new main train station (Hauptbahnhof - Lehrter Stadbahnhof), you'll see the Kanzleramt (chancellor's office) to the south and from the steps going down the north side, nothing. Regina Mönch braved her way across the industrial wasteland. "The view is free all the way across the horizon, the famed sky over Berlin is exposed in all its breath-taking breadth." And "so far, no real estate agent has been able to say what should actually be built there. It's being vaguely claimed that any investor's demands would be met. At the same time, there is talk of long time-frames. Which means the next 20 years. Apartments? That livens up any desert. Apartments in Berlin, say the agents, there are too many of those already. There are too many creative types in Berlin and not enough with real money. Hotels, office buildings? Maybe. But the city has more than enough of those already. Department stores? No comment."


Der Tagesspiegel, 31.10.2005

Frederik Hanssen has glowing words for the Berliner Philharmoniker, calling the orchestra "young and innovative, curious, polyglot and mobile", and a model for the entire country. "In recent years a change of generations has silently taken place, inasmuch as you can say that about a symphony orchestra. For a long time now at their nightly concerts the average age of the performers has been much lower than that of the audience. The orchestra is full of young, well-trained, highly motivated specialists, for whom fluency in all musical languages is a matter of course. Claude Debussy no doubt never heard his music played in such a lively way, and at the same time with such impressive intellectual grace. Appearances by elderly star conductors like Lorin Maazel and Ricardo Muti have become rare. And without the intervention of a general director (Simon Rattle is the orchestra's artistic director and chief conductor. The previous general director, Franz Xaver Ohnesorg, resigned in 2002 and will be replaced in August 2006 by Pamela Rosenberg), the orchestra has invited above all maestros who challenge them aesthetically. Whether playing rare repertory pieces, new music or using historic instruments, the musicians' curiosity knows no bounds."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 31.10.2005

Steffen Kraft reports on Joanne Moar and her project "Becoming German". The New Zealand artist travelled across Germany last summer, collecting childhood memories. "Moar has published the photos from these wanderings on the Internet (where you can also have a childhood put together for you). Not by chance, they are reminiscent of paintings from the Romantic epoch. At that time authors wandered about the country, listening to popular fairy tales from the mouths of milkmaids. Similarly, Moar is not looking for Germanness in the classics, but in the people, in their stories. In all that, she has not found a 'Leitkultur', or dominant German culture, that binds the jet-skiers, TKKG-fans and farmers' children. Children's birthdays, however, are celebrated the same way across the country: 'Almost everyone eats sausages and plays hit the pot (a game similar to pin the tail on the donkey), but that hardly suffices for a dominant culture.' The blue flower remains hidden."


Saturday 29 October, 2005

The cultural press turns its gaze on itself...


Two papers feature stories on the state of Germany's "feuilletons" or cultural press. Die Welt documents a "summit meeting" between four veritable institutions among cultural journalists. Two grey eminences, Marcel Reich-Ranicki (born 1920), Germany's most popular, and controversial, literary critic, and Joachim Kaiser (born 1928), a major voice in music criticism, talk with two members of the younger generation, Frank Schirrmacher (born 1959), publisher and head of the cultural pages at the FAZ, and Mathias Döpfner (born 1963), chairmain of the board at Springer publishing house. The meeting marked the 80th anniversary of the weekly literary supplement of Die Welt. For Kaiser and Reich-Ranicki, today's younger generation of critics lack the courage to express their own judgements. Schirrmacher agrees and surprisingly critiques his own role in the cultural press: "Fuzzy judgements are in fact a real pandemic. We see it as a bit of an infectious disease, even in the literature section. Fewer and fewer people today have the guts to say what they think. Those who do are very quickly isolated, because culture, like many other areas of our society, is a network. There are cartels that protect and laud each other, while excluding others. Independent thinkers are few and far between." Mathias Döpfner also wonders why the cultural press is full of "intimidated and uneasy" journalists, who "are afraid that maybe someone else will challenge their adopted opinions." Seldom has a problem been so capable of analysing itself!

In die tageszeitung, Christian Kortmann wonders what Mathias Döpfner and Frank Schirrmacher mean when they say they would have left Germany long ago if they weren't so badly needed: "They exclude the possibility that the German system, which often rewards mediocrity and ambition, helped them rise to success. Yet at key times in their careers both were protégés, Schirrmacher of Joachim Fest, then publisher of the FAZ, and Döpfner of Friede Springer, widow of Axel Springer, former head of Springer Verlag. That is how they came to be hereditary princes of the system, and brings up the interesting question: If this system is as kaput as they both make it out to be, why has it put them of all people at its very summit?"


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 29.10.2005

Claudia Schwartz is impressed but also a bit divided on the rebuilt Frauenkirche in Dresden, which was christened on Sunday. The paradox that many are aware of: "One doesn't notice at first that forty percent of the original stone was re-used in the sacred building, while the glossy new brickwork could suggest to future generations that it stems from the time of the Saxon kings. Soon, one is going to have to see the break between the virgin, perfectly perpendicular walls and the crooked bits of ruin."



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Saturday 2 - Friday 8 October, 2010

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Saturday 25 September - Friday 1 October

Three East German theatre directors talk about the trauma of reunification. In the FAZ, Thilo Sarrazin denies accusations that his book propagates eugenics: "I am interested in the interplay of nature and nurture." Polemics are being drowned out by blaring lullabies, author Thea Dorn despairs. Author Iris Radisch is dismayed by the state of the German novel - too much idle chatter, not enough literary clout. Der Spiegel posts its interview with the German WikiLeaks spokesman, Daniel Schmitt. And Vaclav Havel's appeal to award the Nobel prize to Liu Xiabobo has the Chinese authorities pulling out their hair.
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Saturday 18 - Friday 24 September, 2010

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