28/03/2006

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.

Die Welt, 28.03.2006

Hannes Stein bids farewell to the great Polish science fiction writer Stanislaw Lem, who died yesterday in Krakow at the age of 84. "He was a satirist and philosopher, he was a supremely cheerful pessimist – and always at least a nose ahead of his readers. He was the most famous and probably also the most intelligent Polish writer of the 20th century. "What does physics have to say about happiness?' he asked once, and then answered: 'About as much as it does about one hand clapping.'


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 28.03.2006

The Peking art scene is burning at both ends, raves Werner Bloch after visiting the "vibrating" exhibition of Chinese photo and video art in Berlin's Haus der Kulturen. "The curators Wu Hung und Christopher Phillips have brought together a grandiose cornucopia of high-quality works. All important artists are represented. 'Photography,' enthuses Wu, is 'an extremely fast, dynamic medium, ideal suited for the lightning pace of change in China'. 'And also an ideal medium for subversion.' When Li Wei walks through Peking with a mirror which he has cut a whole into and put his head through, then his head seems separated from his body and hovers over the ground like a ghost, while his surroundings appear inverted. Nothing is as it seems. Here, like so often in China, the question of reality and perception is posed anew."

"Coincidence would have it that Chekhov's first and last plays premiered over a long weekend in Berlin, both in first-class theatres and both with high-ranking casts and directed by celebrated directors with plenty of Chekhov experience." Christopher Schmidt saw them, and found that "both failed in a way. Stefan Pucher directed "That Worthless Fellow Platonov" at the Volksbühne, and Barbara Frey "The Cherry Orchard" at the Deutsches Theater and the two forms of failure could not have been more different. Deconstruction and reconstruction stand facing one other, wonderful dilettantism and solid mediocrity, intoxication and sobriety, excess and exactitude, wastage and honest work, half-bakedness and fine mechanics, full volume versus nuancing, punk v. poetry. But also bold desperation against spineless sedateness, hyper motor functions against automated acting." Pucher's was an "Anton lounge" and Frey's "lacked drugs and alcohol".


Frankfurter Rundschau, 28.03.2006

Three Frankfurt museums are now showing retrospectives of Max Beckmann's work (links here). One, the Museum für Moderne Kunst, features "Apokalypse", a cycle based on the Book of Revelation. Long believed lost, the originals were completed in exile in 1941 and smuggled back to Germany where they were printed as lithographies. Ulf Erdmann Ziegler was immensely taken by the work: "It gives you a direct look into Beckmann's workshop at the time. Of course the artist had his fun with the text. At one point the 'great whore' appears, a reclining blonde reminiscent of Robert Crumb comics, showing her naked bum in the company of three small revelling kings. A blue-winged angel modelled on Greta Garbo dries the tears from the eyes of a recumbent old man with Beckmann-like features. A seascape appears through a porthole below timeless, heavenly lights. Less successful are the images showing anything reminiscent of battles or parades. They're too diffuse, too black. And the smaller vignettes are far liveler than the full-page illustrations."

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