From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Frankfurter Rundschau 04.04.2008

In an essay Robert Kaltenbrunner notes that our cities are becoming increasingly inhospitable while star architects such as Foster, Hadid and Gehry build ever more sensational individual "show" buildings. "The contempt for, say, today's industrial estates echoes the antipathy for the tenement estates of the 1920s. Just as people lashed out at the lack of hygiene and the over density of those buildings in the past, today they badmouth the sprawl, facelessness, and the focus on individual traffic. The world's eyes are firmly fixed on the new cathedrals: museums, government buildings, concert halls, offices. The 'grey belts' remain an architectural terra incognita – ignored at best, endured with a shrug of the shoulders, traversed as quickly as possible if there's no other option."

Die Tageszeitung 03.04.2008

Michael Braun portrays the Italian cabaret artist and political activist Beppe Grillo, whose blog is among the top ten most visited in the world and whose "kiss-my-ass-day" campaign has made him the country's leading non-parliamentary opposition leader. In an interview Grillo explains his motivation: "350,000 citizens signed a "clean parliament" initiative. As we speak Italy has 24 members of parliament who are convicted criminals and 74 who are under criminal investigation. We wanted to publish this list of names four years ago but no one wanted to print it. Eventually we bought a page in the Herald Tribune and published the list there. And this was then distributed online."

Der Standard 02.04.2008

In the run up to the Nato summit in Bucharest, Bernard-Henri Levy and Andre Glucksmann penned a joint letter to Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy to demand that they open the way to let Ukraine and Georgia into the alliance. "Is the world so kindly-disposed towards us that we can refuse to make allies of the few countries who are willing to adopt our political model at their own risk? For decades we have supported champions of human rights and persecuted democrats around the world. This one time in Bucharest the issue at hand is not to condemn a dictatorship or a boycott a tyrant, but to recognise the path of free choice of a free people and to integrate them in our political-military family. What is being demanded of us is very simple. And yet everything seems strangely complicated. The problem, once again, is that our community of nations is divided. Due to the obsessive mantra of worry about not provoking Russia, certain governments are reluctant to support the young democracies of Georgia and Ukraine."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 01.04.2008

Peter Hagmann was awe-struck by the production of "Wozzeck" in Paris which conductor Sylvain Cambreling has entirely transformed. "The brilliance and agility of the orchestra at the Paris Opera National is audible in the opening bars. The musical language might be atonal but it is delivered with such alacrity that you suddenly seem to sense it on another level of hearing. Yet - and this is no paradox - Berg's modernity emerges to the full. There is no watering down or smoothing off in this interpretation, the dissonant frictions cut through the musical fabric in all their sharpness. And yet they are suspended and embedded in all their colourful brilliance... And then there's this unbelievable warmth which rises from the orchestra pit."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Mark Siemons interviewed Chinese conceptual artist Ai Weiwei who believes that his country would not be having such problems with Tibet if it allowed a free discussion to take place. "I often ask myself why we can't have a society with improved media and no censorship? What have we got to hide? What is so dangerous about the truth? Of course when the majority of the people have only restricted access to information it is easier to manipulate them. Information is power. But before we decide who is right and who is wrong, we have to know all the facts. That is always important. We have never had this and it is about time that we did."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 29.03.2008

Serbian writer Vladimir Arsenijevic demands that his fellow Serbs face up to the reality of an independent Kosovo. He thinks it absurd that politicians in Belgrade have declared "resistance to plain common sense" as a patriotic duty. "With the help of the populist media, they are managing to impress the aggressive anger of the loser on a frustrated and traumatised Serbian society. The credo is that Serbia cannot give in. Serbia has proudly decided to deny reality. It simply refuses to accept it! Not just now, but never again. To hell with reality! 'Kosovo is Serbia! And that's that!!" (See our feature "Our negroes, our enemies" by Arsenijevic.)

Die Welt 29.03.2008

Eckhard Fuhr was deeply impressed by the exhibition in the art museum in Solingen which has been transformed into a "Museum of Persecuted Arts". The exhibits are based on the collection of exile researcher Jürgen Serke, who has been investigating the fate of writers persecuted under both the National Socialist and the communist dictatorships. Serke himself writes about his collection in the Literature section of Die Welt and remembers the photographer Wilfried Bauer whose images of persecuted poets are currently showing in Solingen. "Today it is obvious to all that as witnesses of the truth, they defied the great death mills of the 20th century. Their lives are and unrelenting lesson on the subject of literature and morality in the second half of the 20th century. It was they who fought against the snares of the unequivocal, of ideologies, systems, and the banal consumption of this unique existence that won't be pinned down. In his photographs Bauer lifts up the heretics against communism from an epoch filled with evil – in the West too, where people refused to understand them for a long time."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 29.03.2008

In the ongoing debate surrounding the anti-Islam film "Fitna", Nils Minkmar sides with its maker, Geert Wilders, who has been receiving death threats. The most powerful weapons in our democratic arsenal are the basic rights, Minkmar argues. "One of these core values is the freedom of expression. There is no reason to chip away at this preventively if Geert Wilders chooses to exercise it. But these core values also include the veto on torture and war of aggression. People like Jan Peter Balkenende who first support the war against Iraq and then want to prevent citizens from expressing their fears are betraying western principles. But those European Muslims who condemn the censorship of 'Fitna' but work on an artistic or media riposte, are holding them high." - let's talk european