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22/11/2005

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.

Die Tageszeitung, 22.11.2005

Today Angela Merkel will officially be elected German chancellor by the Bundestag, or parliament. Michael Schindhelm, general director of the foundation set up to oversee Berlin's opera houses, once shared an office with Merkel in the East German academy of sciences. He writes an obituary for "a woman who no longer exists": "There are many reasons why in those days it never occurred to me to see in her the first woman chancellor. Among others, because the Berlin Wall was not far from our workplace, and because she was just a young woman. Our work atmosphere was one of blissful routine. And the same goes for the relationship between Merkel and myself. Our coffee breaks were among the happiest and most illuminating moments in the two and a half years I could bear it at the academy. And there were the concerts, the films, the Bulgarian cabernet, Wagner and Gorbachev and the absurd GDR, whose end no one could yet conceive."


Berliner Zeitung, 22.11.2005

Social segregation is as prevalent in Germany as in France, and those that are shut out are a "ticking bomb" that threatens to go off in the rest of society, according to sociologist Andreas Willisch of the East German Research Network. Only in this country these people come from the ranks of skinheads rather than immigrants. "The exploded fragments of a national socialist spirit replace radical Islam in the minds of Arab or Turkish youths. It is a sort of secular social-state-fixated ersatz religion. Which is why since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the extreme Right has become the most successful social movement in Germany, particularly in the East. The crisis of integration in Germany does not stem from direct poverty as in the US, or republican neglect as in France's suburbs, but from a rift in middle-class society. The sense of redundancy is spread throughout the country. It hides behind neat and tidy facades of economic revival, prettified with tax subsidies."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 22.11.2005

It is a cliche that Western culture suppresses death, Sieglinde Geisel learnt from cultural sciences professor Thomas Macho at a convention on "The new visibility of death". The event was co-organised by Germany's oldest and largest undertakers, Ahorn-Grieneisen, and was held in their meeting house in Berlin. A central role was played by artists searching for new ways of dealing with death, often working directly in morgues, like the American Jeffrey Silverthorne. Silverthorne's black and white photos are hard to take, yet make for compulsive viewing. Ripped open mouths in haggard faces, a final look of astonishment from their eyes, in which sometimes nothing remains exept an unsettling emptiness. The photos were hung in the reception hall which allowed visitors immediately to test out how au fait they were with taboo breaking. But the majority of convention attendees seemed to have no trouble ignoring the corpses on the wall while small talking during the coffee break."


Frankfurter Rundschau, 22.11.2005

Silke Hohmann visited the exhibition of architectureal designs by artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser which, much to the annoyance of proper architects, is housed in the very right-angled Deutsche Architektur Museum which Hunderwasser himself, who died six years ago, stomped out of in a fit of rage. The exhibition consists of six models of his painting-inspired buildings and "it comes as no surprise that there is not a single floor plan or interior view on show. All the wonky little windows which dance about cheerfully and anti-hierarchically on the facade, allow precious little light into the rooms themselves where the inhabitant have to sit squashed up against bulky ceramic columns that are of course included in the rent. Hundertwasser housing might look spectacular from the outside but it conceals grey suburban shoebox interiors."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 22.11.2005


Sonja Zekri has met the Turkish musicians assembled in Stuttgart for the "Simdi Stuttgart" festival, which starts today. The new Istanbul is their artistic homeland, they say. "Fifteen or twenty years ago, Beyoglu and Taksim were scruffy, run-down areas, but today they shine with brightly coloured wig shops for transvestites and the legendary Grand Hotel de Londres; with jazz clubs like Nardis and lounge clubs like the Gizli Bahce 'Secret Garden'; with the techno paradise Indigo where Sven Väth will soon be spinning; and Cambaz, where men shake their hips to the hiphop version of 'California Dreaming'. In Beyoglu, even people who would never dare walk around in Kreuzberg (a Berlin district with a large Turkish population – ed) can feel at home."

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