They?re Still Painting, and More: The Leipzig Art Scene

First a success, then a bubble: the hype surrounding the ?New Leipzig School? put the city on the map of the art world, but also blinkered its vision.... more more

GoetheInstitute

25/08/2006

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.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 25.08.2006

The Polish writer Stefan Chwin does not hold it against Günter Grass for speaking out so late about his time in the SS. He doesn't even seem all that surprised. "For all his vitality, Grass is a secretive and introspective person, and I've never attempted to understand him. I preferred him to remain like his books: nebulous, unclear, ambivalent. Oskar Materath is certainly not a positive hero and 'The Tin Drum' is not a 'clean' book. I've always sensed something strange about that book, which is precisely what I love about it. Real literature plays with truth and morals as one plays with fire."

Watching a great performance of Handel's "Julius Caesar" at the Glydebourne festival in England's East Sussex got television book show presenter Elke Heidenreich (review of her book with bio here) into a spitting fury over opera in Germany. "German opera is watched by experts who will not abide enjoyment. The point is to be tortured. Woe be to new music with tonality, woe be to old music that's not taken with deadly seriousness. I'd like to see this sort of thing in Germany. Cleopatra dancing erotically to Handel, or Caesar and Ptolemy doing a ballet which shows the delicate balancing act of power, with two heavily-armed counter tenors cooing each other in minuet steps. It's unspeakably funny, deeply threatening and yet breathtakingly elegant and sensuous. And never, never does it destroy the music. The music must always be taken seriously. That's rule number one in opera. They know this at Glyndebourne. Germany could do with learning this lesson again, then the opera houses might be less empty."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 25.08.2006


It was known that Günter Grass penned a letter to the mayor of Gdansk, Pawel Adamowicz, but not that his letter was a reply to an email from Adamowicz. On the political pages, Adamowicz writes: "I asked him to tell the people of Gdansk how he came to be a member of the SS and why he had kept silent about it for so long. I sent off the mail with these questions last Saturday evening. I have to admit that I hardly slept a wink that night. Would he answer or not? And if he did, would he be content with just a few short paragraphs? In the night I sought answers to these questions which were worrying us in the favourite book of my youth, 'The Tin Drum'."

Sonja Margolina reports that Russian intellectuals are turning their backs on the West. She attributes this in part to "those western 'business partners' who see fit to dignify their moral sordidness, small-mindedness and intellectual vacuum with democratic values" and who are now looking elsewhere for role models. "The losers of the new world order are now under the spell of world powers who place no normative demands on other states and at the same time show dizzy-making success, like China for example. The Chinese miracle is showing the world that there is no obligatory connection between success and 'western' values: absent freedoms and corrupt institutions make no dent in the promise of success and happiness."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 25.08.2006


Whatever else is true, with its soap operas Syria certainly controls Arab living rooms, writes Mona Sarkis. Censorship is often more tolerant than the viewers. "At least as far as religious sensibilities go, Muslim societies are often less flexible than their governments. The tolerance on the part of the authorities disappears in a flash, however, when real people are referred to, in the context of corruption for example. Or when the legacy of Hafez al-Asad, Syria's longest serving president, is criticised. Terrorism is permitted as a topic, provided the characters are painted black. Sexuality is taboo. Married couples may not be filmed in a room where the door is closed, for instance, because the actors aren't really married."

Günter Seufert takes a closer look at the 49 cases of legal action taken against books and their authors in Turkey in 2005 and the first half of 2006 - an average of one every eleven days. "No less than 20 paragraphs in the Turkish criminal code would have to be altered to give authors and publishers legal protection," Seufert writes. "Until then, trials like the one against Abdullah Yldz, publisher of "The Witches of Smyrna" ("Izmir Büyücüleri"), will continue. The book, the Turkish translation of "Oi Magisses Tis Smirni" by the Greek anthropologist Mara Meimaridi, describes the cosmopolitan life in Smyrna in the 19th century, especially that of the Greek, Jewish, Turkish and Armenian wives. As with Elif Shafak's novel (more here), the case against Yldz concentrates on specific passages. Once again the charge is "insulting Turkishness," this time because Turkish women are portrayed unfavourably."


Die Welt, 25.08.2006


After 30 years, the magazine Theater heute (theatre today) has once again declared Stuttgart's Schauspiel theatre the best in the German-speaking world. The announcement follows just months after Stuttgart's ballet and opera house, the Staatsoper, also took first place. Reinhard Wengierek writes that the theatre's new artistic director Hasko Weber is mainly to thank for the success, saying it's no time for false modesty. "With 1,200 employees, the complex which houses a theatre, ballet and opera is the largest of its kind in the world, and is generously and lovingly maintained by the Swabians. And the quality is first-rate. All in all you can say without blushing, even with distinct pleasure, that performances in Stuttgart are world-class."


Die Tageszeitung, 25.08.2006


Dieter Kammerer asks what makes surveillance camera images so "fascinating". After all, they've never prevented a crime. "Surveillance camera images not only show us our own helplessness in face of the inevitable. They also suggest we can actually do something about it. That's their fantastical side. The images perpetuate the impression that the subsequent events haven't yet happened. You want to halt the scene by calling out 'stop!' To intervene, jump in, knock the knife from the perpetrator's hand, defuse the bomb. In other words, everything the cameras can't do (as all they can really do is provide final images of suicide bombers, a last goodbye to a horrified posterity)."

Get the signandsight newsletter for regular updates on feature articles.
signandsight.com - let's talk european.

 
More articles

From the Feuilletons

Saturday 11 - 17 December, 2010

A clutch of German newspapers launch an appeal against the criminalisation of Wikileaks. Vera Lengsfeld remembers GDR dissident Jürgen Fuchs and how he met death in his cell. All the papers were bowled over Xavier Beauvois' film "Of Gods and Men." The FR enjoys a joke but not a picnic at a staging of Stravinsky's "Rake's Progress" in Berlin. Gustav Seibt provides a lurid description of Napoleonic soap in the SZ. German-Turkish Dogan Akhanli author explains what it feels like to be Josef K.
read more

From the Feuilletons

Saturday 4 - Friday 10 December

Colombian writer Hector Abad defends Nobel Prize laureate Mario Vargas Llosa against European Latin-America romantics. Wikileaks dissident Daniel Domscheit-Berg criticises the new publication policy of his former employer. The Sprengel Museum has put on a show of child nudes by die Brücke artists. The SZ takes a walk through the Internet woods with FAZ prophet of doom Frank Schirrmacher. The FAZ is troubled by Christian Thielemann's unstable tempo in the Beethoven cycle. And the FR meets China Free Press publisher, Bao Pu.
read more

From the feuilletons

Saturday 27 November - Friday 3 December

Danish author Frederik Stjernfelt explains how the Left got its culturist ideas. Slavenka Draculic writes about censoring Angelina Jolie who wanted to make a film in Bosnia. Daniel Cohn-Bendit talks   about his friendship, falling out and reconciliation with Jean-Luc Godard. Wikileaks has caused an embarrassed silence in the Arab world, where not even al-Jazeera reported on the what the sheiks really think. Alan Posener calls for the Hannah Arendt Institute in Dresden to be shut down.
read more

From the Feuilletons

Saturday 20 - Friday 26 November, 2010

The theatre event of the week came in a twin pack: Roland Schimmelpfennig's new play, a post-colonial "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" opened at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin and the Thalia in Hamburg. The anarchist pamphlet "The Coming Insurrection" has at last been translated into German and has ignited the revolutionary sympathies of at least two leading German broadsheets, the FAZ and the SZ. But the taz, Germany's left-wing daily, says the pamphlet is strongly right-wing. What's left and right anyway? came the reply.
read more

From the Feuilletons

Saturday 13 - Friday 19 November, 2010

Dieter Schlesak levels grave accusations against his former friend and colleague, Oskar Pastior, who spied on him for the Securitate. Banat-Swabian author and vice chairman of the Oskar Pastior Foundation, Ernest Wichner, turns on Schlesak for spreading malicious rumours. Die Zeit portrays the Berlin rapper Harris, and the moment he knew he was German. Dutch author Cees Nooteboom meditates on the near lust for physical torture in the paintings of Francisco de Zurburan. An exhibition in Mannheim displays the dream house photography of Julius Schulman.
read more

From the Feuilletons

Saturday 6 - Friday 12 November, 2010

The NZZ asks why banks invest in art. The FAZ gawps at the unnatural stack of stomach muscles in Michelangelo's drawings. The taz witnesses a giant step for the "Yugo palaver". Bernard-Henri Levy describes Sakineh Ashtiani's impending execution as a test for Iran and the west. Journalist Michael Anti talks about the healthy relationship between the net and the Chinese media. Literary academic Helmut Lethen describes how Ernst Jünger stripped the worker of all organic substances.
read more

From the Feuilletons

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.
read more

From the Feuilletons

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.
read more

From the Feuilletons

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.
read more

From the Feuilletons

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.
read more

From the feuilletons

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.
read more

From the Feuilletons

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.
read more

From the Feuilletons

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.
read more

From the Feuilletons

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.
read more

From the Feuilletons

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.
read more