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GoetheInstitute

09/03/2005

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 Rundschau, 09.03.2005

Peter Michalzik has discovered "a flower of paradise": actress Friederike Kammer, who plays at the Schauspiel Frankfurt theatre. "When she stands on stage, you are hit by the very fragility of her body. It jumps at you, creating a peculiar feeling of immediacy. When she stands next to you, the fleetingness of her being, which she calls 'my instrument', is simply astounding. Immediately, you think: fragile. And again: fragile. Then when she is sitting across from you, it becomes evident that things are not as they appear. Kammer first stunned the Frankfurt public with her performance in 'A Streetcar Named Desire', a production that conforms to Frankfurt's understanding of good theatre: a big city mix of action, psychology, and the pretension to fulfilled lives. Playing across from guest star Susanne Lother, who portrays a magnificent knackered lush, Kammer gives the role of the tidy little housewife seductive charisma and sex appeal. Kammer plays such an offensive Stella - going against the play, the role and the other actors, in short against everyone and everything – that at times she seems to have the stage to herself. This creates the tension that has drawn Frankfurt crowds until today." Starting Friday, Kammer plays the title role in Armin Petra's staging of "Lucretia Borgia" by Victor Hugo.


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 09.03.2005

What the FAZ has been warning about for a long time has now come to pass: the public broadcaster Sudwest Rundfunk (SWR) wants to reduce its world class vocal ensemble from 36 to 18 singers. Suffering from an insufficient rise in public user fees, the broadcaster is trying to remain competitive with football and folk music. SWR manager Peter Voß had justified the decision in a report entitled the "Updated State of Affairs". Eleonore Büning comments: "An act of barbarity lurks in the twisted phrases of the report: sub-points 2.4.2 and 2.4.3 of the 'Updated State of Affairs', which threaten that 'disbanding' the ensemble would be the best way to reduce personnel, speak for themselves. The SWR Vocal Ensemble, also known as the 'Südfunk Choir', is as good as dead when halved and de-professionalised. The excellent singers will have no problem finding other work. But the region loses its concerts, the state loses its best known cultural ambassador and the German music scene loses one of its shining lights."

"Him too? Jean Genet, saint and martyr for an entire epoch, was also a Nazi?" asks Jürg Altwegg, reviewing Ivan Jablonka's biographical study "Les vérités inavouables de Jean Genet" (Seuil). In the 1950s, Jean-Paul Sartre elevated the French dramatist to "Saint Genet, actor and martyr". Later, Michel Foucault saw in Genet the figure of a lunatic and criminal created in the mould of inhuman institutions. Jacques Derrida, for his part, exalted Genet's "subversive instinct". Now this myth is being subverted. "Jablonka's study reveals that Genet's legends and lies are at least partially rooted in the Second World War. Before chanting hymns to Palestinian terrorists and the Baader Meinhof Gang, Genet had sung praises of Hitler and the Nazis no less enthusiastically than Louis Ferdinand Céline. Genet was the lover of a French SS officer. He raved about 'blonde warriors' and praised the massacre at Oradour as pure 'poetry'. For Jablonka, Genet's Nazi leanings were the result of an 'intellectual and erotic fascination'. He did not expect anything good from Hitler, he was just delighted by all the horror."


Die Tageszeitung, 09.03.2005

Berlin's Museum of Applied Art is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Ulm School of Design with an exhibition of the school's best works. Ronald Berg explains that despite its short life from 1953-1958, the school is considered a reincarnation of Bauhaus and has come to symbolise German quality design. The main difference with the Bauhaus movement was that the Ulm designers saw themselves not as artists, but as practitioners playing an active role in the production process. Berg writes, "In Ulm, form was never a goal in itself: the designs had to be functional. The best example is Max Bill's stool, made of three u-form boards with a wooden slat between them. You can sit on it, use it as a portable book shelf or put it on a table as a lectern. Similar in concept was Marcel Brauer's steel pipe stool-cum-side table." The Ulm school closed when its funding was cut off by Baden Württemberg's prime minister, Hans Filbinger, who had been a lawyer under the Nazis. Drawing a comparison with the fate of the Bauhaus school in Dessau, Berg writes, "Strange that the most radical and ultimately most influential institutions of modern design arose in German provincial towns, only to be snuffed out shortly after."


Der Tagesspiegel, 09.03.2005

Jörg Königsdorm interviews pianist Andras Schiff, who explains how he came to Beethoven – and how he learned to play Beethoven's music differently from Artur Schnabel, Wilhelm Kempff and Claudio Arrau. "The more I play and study Beethoven's sonatas, the more I see that a lot of the pianistic tradition is wonderful, but a lot is simply sloppy. Take a very famous example: before the first movement of the 'Moonlight Sonata', Beethoven very distinctly writes 'senza sordino', a clear indication that on today's piano very little pedal should be used. But how often is this movement drowned in leaden sentimentality because people are still possessed by some notion of screwy romanticism? This doesn't have anything to do with Beethoven. In fact, it's a very revolutionary piece."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 09.03.2005

Kristina Maidt-Zinke reports cheerily on the Martin Walser Exhibition entitled "Nichts ist ohne sein Gegenteil wahr" (Nothing is True Without its Opposite) in the Literature House in Munich. "Martin Walser has turned himself into an exhibition by donating letters, manuscripts, first editions and posters from his private archive. Among them is, for example, a revealing and moving correspondence with Uwe Johnson from the winter of 1960 - 1961, in which Walser defends himself against the accusation that he lacks human warmth. 'I have no warmth and no coldness,' he writes, 'and the luke warms have to live as well, more spat on than spat out.' Johnson answers without mercy: 'Mr. Walser is stiff... He loves himself to the point of tears, he defends himself by hating society; people with experience recognise his evil look early on."

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Saturday 6 - Friday 12 November, 2010

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Saturday 30 October - Friday 5 November, 2010

Now that German TV has just beatified Pope Pius XII, Rolf Hochmuth tells die Welt where he got the idea for his play "The Deputy". The FR celebrates Elfriede Jelinek's "brilliantly malicious" farce about the collapse of the Cologne City Archive. "Carlos" director Olivier Assayas makes it clear that the revolutionary subject is a figment of the imagination. The SZ returns from the Shanghai Expo with a cloying after-taste of sweet 'n' sour. And historian Wang Hui tells the NZZ that China's intellectuals have plenty of freedom to pose critical questions.
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Saturday 23 - Friday 29 October, 2010

Author Doron Rabinovici protests against the concessions of moderate Austrian politicians to the FPÖ: recently in Vienna, children were sent back to Kosovo at gunpoint. Ian McEwan wonders why major German novelists didn't mention the Wall. The NZZ looks through the Priz Goncourt shortlist and finds plenty of writers with more bite than Houellebecq. The FAZ outs two of Germany's leading journalists who fiercely guarded the German Foreign Ministry's Nazi past. Jens-Martin Eriksen and Frederik Stjernfelt analyse the symptoms of culturalism, left and right. Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht demonstratively yawns at German debate.
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Saturday 16 - Friday 22 October, 2010

A new book chronicles the revolt of revolting "third persons" at Suhrkamp publishers in the wild days of 1968. Necla Kelek is appalled by the speech of the very Christian Christian Wulff, the German president, in Turkey. The taz met a new faction of hardcore Palestinians who are fighting for separate sex hairdressing in Gaza. Sinologist Andreas Schlieker reports on the new Chinese willingness to restructure the heart. And the Cologne band Erdmöbel celebrate the famous halo around the frying pan.
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Saturday 9 - Friday 15 October, 2010

The FR laps up the muscular male bodies and bellies at the Michelangelo exhibition in the Viennese Albertina. The same paper is outraged by the cowardice of the Berlin exhibition "Hitler and the Germans". Mario Vargas-Llosa remembers a bad line from Sweden. Theologist Friedrich Wilhelm Graf makes it very clear that Western values are not Judaeo-Christian values. The Achse des Guten is annoyed by the attempts of the mainstream media to dismiss Mario Vargas-Llosa. The NZZ celebrates the tireless self-demolition of Polish writer and satirist Slawomir Mrozek.
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Saturday 2 - Friday 8 October, 2010

Nigerian writer Niyi Osundare explains why his country has become uninhabitable. German Book Prize winner Melinda Nadj Abonji says Switzerland only pretends to be liberal. German author Monika Maron is not sure that Islam really does belong to Germany. Russian writer Oleg Yuriev explains the disastrous effects of postmodernism on the Petersburg Hermitage. Argentinian author Martin Caparros describes how the Kirchners have co-opted the country's revolutionary history. And publisher Damian Tabarovsky explains why 2001 was such an explosively creative year for Argentina.
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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

Herta Müller's response to the news that poet Oskar Pastior was a Securitate informant was one of overwhelming grief: "When he returned home from the gulag he was everybody's game." Theatre director Luk Perceval talks about the veiled depression in his theatre. Cartoonist Molly Norris has disappeared after receiving death threats for her "Everybody Draw Mohammed" campaign. The Berliner Zeitung approves of the mellowing in Pierre Boulez' music. And Chinese writer Liao Yiwu, allowed to leave China for the first time, explains why schnapps is his most important writing tool.
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Saturday 10 - Friday 17 September, 2010

The poet Oskar Pastior was a Securitate informant, the historian Stefan Sienerth has discovered. Biologist Veronika Lipphardt dismisses Thilo Sarrazin's incendiary intelligence theories as a load of codswallop. A number of prominent Muslim intellectuals in Germany have written an open letter to President Christian Wulff, calling for him to "make a stand for a democratic culture based on mutual respect." And a Shell study has revealed that Germany's youth aspire to be just like their parents.
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Saturday 4 - Friday 10 September, 2010

Thilo Sarrazin has buckled under the stress of the past two weeks and resigned from the board of the Central Bank. His book, "Germany is abolishing itself", however, continues to keep Germany locked in a debate about education and immigration and intelligence. Also this week, Mohammed cartoonist Kurt Westergaard has been awarded the M100 prize for defending freedom of opinion. Chancellor Angela Merkel gave a speech at the award ceremony: "The secret of freedom is courage". The FAZ interviewed Westergaard, who expressed his disappointment that the only people who had shown him no support were those of his own class.
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