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GoetheInstitute

30/03/2005

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.

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 30.03.2005

Charged for "inciting religious dissent" in the exhibition "Beware, Religion!", the Director of the Sacharov Museum Yury Samodurov has been sentenced by a Moscow court with a fine of roughly €2,800. At least it wasn't three years imprisonment as the state prosecutor, spurred on by the Orthodox Church, had demanded. But Sonja Zekri is not relieved: "A new side of social and political life has been exposed, says Samodurov. First the court establishes a distinction between 'normal' Russian art and 'foreign' art - closer to the West. The liberal radio broadcaster Echo Moskwy asks: 'Is this an Inquisition? It looks that way.'" Click here for an English version of Jens Mühling's article on Samodurov and censorship trends in the Moscow art scene.

Iraqi author Najem Wali describes the miserable state of the Iraqi cultural scene, which is still powerless and defeated, two years after the war: cinemas and theatres are closed, festivals are serving the cult of authority, many artists have emigrated or become corrupt. "The chaos, the corruption and the terrorism, not to mention the problems of daily life and the ongoing crisis, are renewing intellectuals' awareness of their own powerlessness. Of course the end of the dictatorship has meant the end of censorship and other external restraints. Theoretically, the unique opportunity to get on with long delayed projects exists. But the intellectuals become resigned, because they have no influence on what is going on before their own eyes, neither the meaningless dying nor the troubles of the gangs nor the strengthening of extremist religious militias."


Die Tageszeitung, 30.03.2005

George Blume portrays a dyed-in-the-blood anarchist, 94-year-old Philosophy Professor Emeritus Zhou Fucheng from Sichuan. "From his little room with bed and desk, he looks down through a wood-framed window onto an artificial lake and a restored villa in which US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is currently residing. Police cars are parked outside his front door. On his desk is the New Beijing News with a photo of Rice on the cover. 'If the Communist Party would only use the 60th anniversary of the end of the war to conduct a respectable analysis of fascism, I mean all forms of fascism: German, Italian, Japanese, Chinese', says Zhou, addressing the villa. There, behind the lake, he knows that the powers that be are sitting at a table with Rice. He would like to oblige them not to put the burdens of the past and fascism only on the shoulders of his generation. 'In China today there are still people who are similar to the fascists even if they don't admit it. You can see this because there is still no freedom of speech or democracy here. 1,000 years of dictatorship is enough.'"


Frankfurter Rundschau, 30.03.2005

The fact is that on his 100th birthday, no one in France is interested in Jean-Paul Sartre any more, says Martina Meister. His theatre is dead, his philosophical and literary work is no longer studied at universities. "What remains 100 years later are above all the old animosities. The ideological split seems to have remained intact between those who would rather be wrong with Sartre and those who were right with Raymond Aron, Sartre's bourgeois sociologist adversary who at the time was just as famous as Sartre, but whose 100th birthday went by almost unnoticed. As if the intellectual Cold War were still going on. The conservative newspaper Le Figaro headlines: 'Sarte: Nausea?', publishing a series of articles meant to demystify his philosophy, his prose, his theatre and of course above all his engagement.... The left-leaning paper Liberation, by contrast, honours its founding father with a 72 page supplement. Sartre revisited.... the approach is hagiographic, if not uncritical. Yet after reading it, one asks oneself how the inexorable Sartre would have commented on the fact that Liberation survives thanks only to capital from the banker Rothschild."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 30.03.2005

Hans-Joachim Müller visits the new Stuttgart Kunstmuseum, or art museum, which opened at the beginning of March and has been downright stormed by artistically-minded Swabians. The reason: "It was an ingenious move on the part of the Stuttgart authorities to call the striking cube they've erected in the middle of the city an 'art museum'. Until now there has been no art museum in the city. 'Art museum' stands for discovery, a new start. There once was a city gallery lurking in the back rooms of the art building which at one time or another completely disappeared from view. But you don't need to know that when you enter the museum. Here it is zero hour."

Ingeborg Harms draws enthusiastic attention to an erotic and apparently superbly decadent series of photographs taken by the 40-year-old photographer Jürgen Teller, on display in Vienna's Kunsthalle. The photos, part of Teller's show "Ich bin 40" (I'm 40), feature the photographer together with 60-year-old Charlotte Rampling in the Louis XV Suite of the Parisian Hotel Crillon: "He pees into a coffee cup, stuffs his mouth full of caviar and stretches his behind out at the observer. In short, he behaves like a soldier of fortune who has got control of a palace and its mistress. But the real thrill of the photo-novel comes from the power relations, which hang in the balance. None of the photos portray a master-servant relationship. Instead, they have all the ambivalence of a mischievous and ungainly tenderness, risking both powerlessness and ridiculousness from the very start."


Literaturen, 01.04.2005

The April edition of this monthly magazine focuses on the theme of foreignness, featuring an interview with "four not exactly German authors" – Terezia Mora, Imran Ayata, Wladimir Kaminer and Navid Kermani – who discuss foreigner-hype in the German literature scene and foreignness in literature. Yet at the same time, they express qualms about why they of all people should be consulted as specialists on foreignness. Kermani comments that in the final analysis, foreignness starts with the female body. Mora agrees, adding she finds it downright annoying that a sort of norm is still held high which inevitably designates everything that is somehow different as foreign, especially in a country that claims Kafka as a national literary commodity. She tells an anecdote on this point: "We were all born around 1970. For us, the fall of the Wall was in fact also a historical break in our biographies. Since then we have all been living in another world. When I said this recently at a meeting with a West German author, he flicked his cigarette and said: Not me. According to this view, things West German would represent the normality. Only the core Wessi (West German) doesn't have to justify what he does. What the core Wessi writes then becomes the norm, and everything else is kind of extra. That gets on my nerves."

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