10/01/2006

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, 10.01.2006

Today's paper features two articles on Ariel Sharon. London-based Israeli architect Eyal Weizman turns a professional eye to the settlements initiated by Sharon and the Israeli Separation Wall: "If you consider that in contemporary architectural discourse flexibility and the provisional have almost become fetishes, it is surprising that Sharon has not been offered the Pritzker Prize." Neither the settlements nor the wall will survive, writes Weizman, whose critique of Sharon seems to coincide with a critique of modern architecture: "The buildings of today are the trash of tomorrow, and so Ariel Sharon will be remembered in more than one respect as an architect of ruins."

For Hassan Khader, editor of the Palestinian literary review Al Karmel, the wall and the destruction of the settlements belong to a "master plan for reconstructing reality according to ideological requirements. And if there is something like a Sharon legacy, then it lies between these two extremes. The broad streets and prefab houses in Gaza now look like the remains of a distant past. The settlements are already history, deformed skeletons of concrete and gravel, although they were only abandoned a few months ago. But as such, they have become a metaphor for something else: for the master plan itself. And perhaps no one better described such an end to the master plan than Bertolt Brecht, who once said that the best plans were always ruined by the faint-heartedness of those who carry them out, while the rulers are powerless to do anything about it."


Die Welt, 10.01.2006

Katharina Wagner has opened the Puccini Festival at Berlin's Deutsche Oper with "Il Trittico", written by the composer between 1915 and 1918. Manuel Brug was at the premiere and wonders "whether Wagner's talent is not being all-too-quickly consumed for PR purposes. But such is the will of the artistic directors – and Wagner can't hold herself back." Still, the production has its good points: "This down-to-earth young woman, who since her childhood has been steeled in the maelstrom of family hatred, greedy ambition and lickspittle envy, has made noticeable progress as a director. And this progress makes itself felt for two of the trio of one-act operas. Then her ineluctable dramatic advisor Robert Sollich must break new ground: In 'The Cloak', the props and extras start playing conceptual theatre. But at stage-front, verismo-vibrato Chiara Taigi (Giorgette), stentorian tenor Vincenzo La Scola (Luigi) and Paolo Gavanelli (Michele) who relies the whole time on his feel-good timbre, engage in Italo-boulevard-type upstaging manoeuvres of the brashest kind."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 10.01.2006


Since the advent of DVD, cinemas have been going downhill. For Lars Henrik Gass, director of the International Oberhausen Short Film Festival, this is more than the "decline in one form of film consumption": "In the cinema (unlike in the theatre or in a museum), I'm not looking to educate myself, to the contrary; I want to be another life, I position myself outside society. And that's quantitatively different from science and art. Cinema was something other than a fiction, something other than a representation of reality, as a documentation. If film is just a moving image that I can stop and play with at any given moment, that is at my service, then it enters a new economy of consumption, one which it had managed to avoid in the cinema, that had forced me to be part of something different, to enter something like a foreign, prohibited and inaccessible time, to perceive something that could potentially endanger me in the extreme."


Frankfurter Rundschau, 10.01.2006

Thomas Medicus has had a look at the Statistical Yearbook for Berlin 2005 and is anything but optimistic. "Corporate bankruptcy, unemployment and lay-offs are pretty much the norm. The fact that 'the jobs with less social security' are expanding, is especially hard on the city. The yearbook concludes that Berlin is dissociating itself increasingly from the economic development of the rest of the country. United Berlin finds itself in the fatal situation of isolation that those living West Berlin prior to the fall of the wall know so well. In Berlin, the status quo always seems to prevail."

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