Features » Magazine Roundup


Magazine Roundup

Elet es Irodalom | The American Conservative | Le point |Al Ahram Weekly |The New Statesman| Die Weltwoche | Polityka | The Atlantic | L'Espresso | Przekroj | The New York Times | The Times Literary Supplement

Elet es Irodalom 09.01.2009 (Hungary)

Media scientist Peter György is shocked by the "scandalous award" of the Deutsche Bank-sponsored Kandinsky Prize to the ultra-nationalist Russian artist Alexei Belyaev-Gintovt. For György, although many a curator may have lost their way in the maze of art that plays with its socialist past, there is something fundamentally wrong with such awards. "When today's avant-guard no longer swims against the tide but is funded by the Deutsche Bank and rubs shoulders with oligarchs and billionaires, we have to find a new language for the tactics and meaning of these freedom fighters... Embarrassingly the Kandinsky Prize has proved to be nothing but a plaything of the new elite, another part of the system."

There is a lively description (in English) of the protests by the left-wing internationalist Chto Delat (What is to be done), as well as an open letter by socialist movement Vpered (Forward!) against the indifference of the sponsors, the jury (art historian Ekaterina Bobrinskaja, Valerie Hillings of the Guggenheim Museum, Andrei Erofeev, the then head of the Tretyakov Gallery, Friedhelm Hütte of Deutsche Bank Art, Jean-Hubert Martin of the French National Museums and Alexander Borovsky of the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg) and the authoritarianism of the Russian magazine ArtKronika. The English art magazine Frieze seemed quite content that Belyaev-Gintovt had won - he might not be a particularly good artist and he's certainly a fascist but he is also the perfect ambassador of the Putin era. The PG Group also received a prize which, Bloomberg News reports, went down like a lead balloon: "To receive the award, the three young men that comprise the group came on stage wearing ski masks, announcing themselves to be the Moscow representatives of Somali pirates. 'The future belongs to people in masks,' one member of the group said, to a stunned audience. 'Your fat-cat lifestyle will soon end and then you'll all be hung up high.' 'We're not joking,' he added. Silence descended on the room, followed by meek applause."

The American Conservative 26.01.2009 (USA)

John Mearsheimer, coauthor of the "The Israel Lobby" is in no doubt that the Israelis are to blame for the war in Gaza - after all they had planned all along to show the Palenstinians that their future was Israel's hands. During the ceasefire Israel "continued arresting and assassinating Palestinians on the West Bank, and it continued the deadly blockade that was slowly strangling Gaza. Then on Nov. 4, as Americans voted for a new president, Israel attacked a tunnel inside Gaza and killed six Palestinians. It was the first major violation of the ceasefire, and the Palestinians - who had been 'careful to maintain the ceasefire,' according to Israel's Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center - responded by resuming rocket attacks. The calm that had prevailed since June vanished as Israel ratcheted up the blockade and its attacks into Gaza and the Palestinians hurled more rockets at Israel. It is worth noting that not a single Israeli was killed by Palestinian missiles between Nov. 4 and the launching of the war on Dec. 27."

Le point 15.01.2009 (France)

"Dubious" and "disgusting" are the words Bernard-Henri Levy uses to describe the new "friends" of the Palestinian people, who have ganged up against Israel for very different reasons. The nastiest example being the alliance of politicians from the radical left such as Olivier Besancenot and representatives of the far-right such as anti-Semitic comedian Dieudonne and Jean-Marie Le Pen, who have compared the Gaza Strip with a "concentration camp". Levy, who is currently visiting Ramalla and Sderot, writes: "What a relief to meet real Palestinians instead of the fictional ones who see the attacks on synagogues in France as an act of resistance! Real Palestians force themselves to be moderate and with admirable sang-froid, try to hold on to the chances for a shared future; fictional Palestinians are frenzied, more radical than the radical and ready to fight on Europe's streets until the last drop of Palestinian blood has been spilled. (...) As I follow this 'anti-Holocaust' movement from Ramallah and Sderot which, at I write, has cost 888 lives, I ask the simple question: where were these demonstrators, when not 888 but 300,000 lives were lost in the massacre of Darfur?"

Al Ahram Weekly 15.01.2009 (Egypt)

Egypt has come under criticism from a number of Muslim brothers for not opening the Rafa crossing on the Gazan-Egyptian border. Abdel-Moneim Said of the Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies defends Egyptian policy. He lists the security risks involved: these are the tunnel in Rafah through which Hamas smuggles weapons into Gaza, and the three additional risks which were added in recent years: "The first involved smuggling of arms into Sinai and contributing to the training of terrorists who carried out deadly operations in Taba, Sharm El-Sheikh and Dahab on the Gulf of Aqaba coast. The second was the demographic invasion of Sinai by three quarters of a million Palestinians in January 2008. This alerted Egyptians to the possibility of a Palestinian takeover of Sinai, whether under pressure from Israel or by Hamas planning to create strategic depth for its very small territory. The third, a much more strategic security risk, involves Hamas becoming part of a much larger coalition of radicals that are targeting Egypt for having changed its posture to one of peace and moderation."

Amira Nowaira was inspired by Jonathan Swift's modest proposal for solving the Irish problem in 1729 to come up with a few ideas for solving the Palestinian problem. "First, for those Palestinians who have survived their own self- inflicted violence, we create a large reservation and keep them inside it for their own safety. Of course, we will also place soldiers armed with machine guns around this reservation, in order to save the Palestinians from themselves. We will threaten to shoot them if their suicidal tendencies reappear. The Palestinians can be clothed and fed; people can even come to look at them, if they sit in the safety of their jeeps."

The New Statesman 19.01.2009 (UK)

Here's one for the more discerning chocoholics among you. Xan Rice instroduces the Italian honorary consul Claudio Corallo, whose homegrown/homemade chocolate is "in the same market as the world's leading gourmet chocolate-makers, such as Valrhona and Pralus in France and Italy's Amedei and Domori." Corallo is a slim, 57-year-old polyglot who describes himself as an anarchist."He makes his chocolate at, or at least very near, source - on Sao Tome, off the west coast of Africa, population 160,000 (including ten Italians), where the electricity is intermittent and flights to Europe depart once a week. Equally unusually, he controls the entire process, from the tree to the bar.(...) Though he wants people to eat his chocolate, Corallo abhors having to persuade customers to buy it. He lost a contract with Fortnum & Mason a few years ago principally because he refused to make fancy wrappers for his product.'I hate compromise,' he says. 'And marketing is compromise.'"

Die Weltwoche 15.01.2009 (Switzerland)

The popular success of Facebook far outstrips its economic success. But this does not mean it is doomed to fail, writes Michael Maier, as long as the advertising industry wises up. "Whether the numerous experiments with which the advertising industry has tried to reach Facebook users will have any success depends, above all, on whether the admen have learned to play by the new rules – and these are openness, directness, responsiveness to criticism, decentralisation and PR aversion."

Polityka 16.01.2009 (Poland)

Of Poland's 900,000 female students, one in nine sells her body for extra cash, reports Barbara Pietkiewicz (here in German). Such women used to be called concubines, today they are "sponsored" and their duties contractually regulated. "For a female student interested in finding a sponsor, the qualities that make her valuable for an agency will will also make her attractive to a potential sponsor. She will attract a sponsor on the grounds of her status alone. Here is someone who is studying, developing herself, and he can help her by taking on role of patron – thereby freeing himself of all guilt. The agency people, says Joanna Sztobryn-Giercuszkiewicz [author of a study on the psychological aspects of prostitution], see it as part of their normal escort work, whether the girls want to work long-term or just temporarily, it is what it is. But they use other language when talking to the sponsored women. They tell Marika that a prostitute can't choose her clients. She must take whatever comes and do whatever they want. But a sponsored woman, especially an attractive one, cannot only choose, but can stipulate contractually the sexual acts that would come into consideration, and those that would not."

The Atlantic 01.01.2009 (USA)

Joshua Green portrays the brash New York Democrat Senator, Chuck Schumer, whose ambitious championing of the middle class cause has won him few friends among liberal journalists. "'Lemme tell you,' he said with more than his usual gusto, when I pointed this out, 'I had a big argument with the New York Times editorial board when I started pushing college-tuition deductibility. They wrote an editorial saying [middle-class people] don't need it. Give it all to the poor. I called them up and said, >First, you don't understand that someone making 68,000 dollars and paying 20,000 dollars a year for tuition feels every bit as poor as somebody who's making 22,000 and doesn't have to pay any tuition. And second, if [Democrats] listened to you, we'd have 35 seats in the Senate and you'd criticize us for being ineffective.< From those people in the, quote, liberal elite, there is almost something bad about trying to help the middle class.'"

Further articles: Hua Hsu sees white America in an identity crisis and wonders how it will fit into mainstream post-racial society. Christopher Hitchens has mild misgivings about Barack Obama's "cool cat" image. Andrew Curry is a spectator at the IKA Olympics in a field in Erfurt, where the heat is on to find the world best military cook. Lisa Abend goes to Basque-language immersion school.

L'Espresso 16.01.2009 (Italy)

Three years ago Andrzej Stasiuk (more) was drinking a coffee on the market place in the old seaside resort of Budva in Montenegro while watching a football match between Montenegro and Transnistria. And it prompted the following thought: In the old days states were created because people wanted independence, but today nations are constructed because they fit a business model. "Transnistria is recognised only by Transnistria itself and is silently tolerated by Moscow. The country's chief asset is its vast reservoir of weapons which were left behind by the Soviets. It also has border fortifications, a national currency and everything is controlled by the Smirnov family. During a mild Adriatic sunset I had the feeling that I was witnessing an alternative reality. The world, Europe, still existed but a completely new order was rising alongside it. The men at the adjacent table were in high spirits. They were raving about their non-existent country. But the Transnistrian team also had plenty to boast about; they were playing in their own national stadium, built in Tiraspol with money from the Smirnovs: communists, gangsters and arms dealers.

Przekroj 15.01.2009 (Poland)

Andrzej Wajda's film "Katyn" (about the murder of thousands of Polish officers by the Red Army in 1943) is finally starting to do the rounds on the international circuit. But the director is already thinking about his next project. "Oh I'd love to make a film about Lech Walesa! But Lech is a difficult character. And you need lots of courage to make a film about someone who is still alive...," he tells Piotr Najsztub. Moreover Wajda is sceptical about making another historical film. "Today's film audiences ... want to be entertained. It's not as if they are waiting for a disturbing film and we are unable to deliver. There are just no audiences for these sort of films any more."

In the print version only: Igor Ryciak is already dreading the various anniversaries due to be celebrated in 2009: seventy years of WWII, ten years of NATO – five years EU membership, and of course 20 years - not since the fall of the Berlin Wall, but since the Polish Round Table which signalled the beginning of the end for Communism. The Foreign Ministry has already launched its campaign "Freedom '89. Made in Poland" which is intended to "turn the wall into a table," as Ryciak puts it. There is a parallel scheme underway, instigated by the Institute for National Memory, "Polska 1989", which will launch a multimedia website aimed at an international audience. Ryciak is disdainful: "First of all Europe has to be convinced that the end of Communism has nothing to do with the Germans, then we should remember that Germany invaded Poland in 1939 and finally there will be a campaign to assure the world that we have nothing against the Germans. Let's see how that works."

The New York Times 18.01.2009 (USA)

Matt Bai has little patience with U.S liberals who are already accusing Obama of not being radical enough and of not having enough outsiders, homosexuals or members of ethnic minorities in his cabinet. "That sound you hear is the last wheezing gasp of boomer-age politics, the cataloguing of individuals according to their areas of oppression, the endless process of tallying cultural differences rather than aggregating common objectives. It is a political philosophy that probably made sense 30 years ago but that seems sort of baffling at the dawn of the Obama era, when such interest groups are among the most powerful in the Washington establishment – and when the Man himself is black."

The rest of the magazine is filled with Nadav Kander's photographs of "Obama's people" (more on the subject here)

The Times Literary Supplement 16.01.2009 (UK)

George Bornstein read Eric J. Sundquist's book on Martin Luther King's dream with great interest. The book also addresses how the dream was reinterpreted by left-wing liberals to mean the opposite of what King intended. "The revealing final illustration in 'King's Dream', the cover of the left-liberal magazine the Nation at the time of George W. Bush's first inauguration in January 2001, shows an illustration by the influential cartoonist Art Spiegelman appropriating King's vision in a troubling way. It features King's dream turned to nightmare as Bush embraces Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice as the nation's first black Secretary of State and National Security Adviser, respectively. 'The implication, of course, was that King would be appalled not only by Bush's election but also, and specifically, by his appointment of conservative blacks to his cabinet', writes Sundquist, accurately. 'The very existence of blacks like Powell and Rice appeared here to contradict the expectation that race – at least if one is African American – will determine one's beliefs and political views.' That version of King's dream bans ideological diversity within the race and subordinates character to colour, contradicting King's famous aphorism that children be judged not 'by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character'."

There is also a review of Robert Crawford's biography of the Scottish poet Robert Burns and a book of dialogues, derived from public performances by Scottish painter and art critic Alexander Moffat and poet Alan Riach entitled "Arts of Resistance". - let's talk european