From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 06.06.2009

It is possible to live a fairly normal life in Iran, just like in Europe – only it has to take place behind closed doors and in constant fear of being discovered," explains Iranian women's rights activist Parvin Ardalan in an interview with Sophie Schöberl. People work their way around restrictions. "It's like a game, and it gets exhausting. Take the example of my coat. Three months ago I wouldn't have been able to wear it, because it's too short. A revolutionary guard would probably have stopped me from entering this cafe. So I said to myself: very well, I won't wear it yet. But now it's fine to wear it because on the eve of the election, the government wants everyone in a good mood. After the elections the coat will be too short again."

Frankfurter Rundschau 08.06.2009

Sandra Dannicke was at the Venice Biennale where she thought Slovakia put on a much better show than Germany, which was represented by British artist Liam Gillick: "Liam Gillick has installed a room-filling structure, based on oversized pine kitchen units, that is conceived as a 'sort of diagram of functionality and a quest for modernity'. This is obviously his idea of 'working against the ideology of the German pavilion's architecture.' An idea which fails miserably because of the absolute banality of the piece, which then becomes thoroughly ridiculous with the addition of a 'talking' cat on top of one of the units. At this 53rd biennale, the person who has best worked against the ideology of the pavilion is the Slovak artist Roman Ondak, who replanted the surrounding gardens inside the pavilion itself and thus rendered it invisible. ... There couldn't be a more charming way of negating national symbolism."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 09.06.2009

Kerstin Holm reports from the Moscow trial of the curator Andrei Erofeyev, who stands accused of denigrating Christian symbols in an art exhibition. She describes one of the motley crew of witnesses for the prosecution: "Vladimir Sergeyev steps into the witness box, dressed entirely in black. He is a member of the ultra-right organisation 'Orthodox Defence' and is constantly winking. Sergeyev did not actually see the exhibition himself, which showed Christ looking down from a McDonald's advert and an image of a military recruit being sodomised, but his wife photographed them and died soon thereafter – as a result of the images, the widower believes."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 10.06.2009

Power and polythinker Peter Sloterdijk takes a while to warm up before launching into a history of anti-capitalist theory from Rousseau on. It's all wrong, he says, and anyway we are not living in  capitalism, but in a 'mass-media stimulated, tax-grabbing semi-socialism based on the the principles of private capital." He continues: "Every year fully fledged tax states reclaim half of all the economic successes from their productive classes for the fiscus, without those affected seeking refuge in what would be most plausible reaction, an anti-fiscal civil war. This is the result of the sort of political dressage that would turn an absolutist finance minister pale with envy."

Die Tageszeitung 11.06.2009

Forced marriages do not only effect women, as Cigdem Akyol explains. Senol, for example, a Turk who grew up in Cologne suddenly found himself married to one of his cousins from Turkey. "The pressure kept building up for Senon because the in-laws were demanding heirs. He was overcome with anxiety at having no propect beyond this puppet existence: night after night with his relative in bed, sex he didn't want to have, he couldn't go on much longer. Six months after the wedding he left home, with just one plastic bag containing his things. At first he lived with friends, now he lives 50 km away from his family in his own flat and has a new job. He doesn't live in fear of his family. Since he's not a woman he doesn't have to fear retribution from unreconstructed males. But his behaviour does constitute a declaration of war on his family."

Jungle World 12.06.2009

For Andreas Benl and Kazem Moussavi the Iranian electoral race is nothing but infighting of the religious elite. "The secular opposition is refusing to back any of the four candidates and has called for a boycott of the elections. There are strikes and protests every day although the protesters know that it could cost them their lives. In several universities the students confronted Moussavi with questions about his role in the massacres of regime opponents: 'Where were you in 1988 and how many people did you murder?' The opposition has high hopes because the Iranian regime is domestically extremely unstable. The pressure from abroad, on the other hand, is abating. Germany, though is taking the lead in using the window of opportunity opened by the overtures made the US government towards the Iranian regime."

Süddeutsche Zeitung 12.06.2009

Christine Dössel mourns for stage director Jürgen Gosch. "Jürgen Gosch (born 1943) was a director who, like no other, knew how to coax out human souls in all their complexity and sordidness, with a merciless, razor-sharp precision that gave all his productions the sense of being viewed through a microscope. You could see these peculiar people, these miserable beings with all their beauties and deformations in exaggerated clarity and sharpenss, so free from artifice, so true, and so rare in the theatre. You could watch them fighting for their lives and a tiny bit of happiness, how, representing us all with their hopes, loves and failures, they seemed so incredibly close." (Watch an English-subtitled interview with Jürgen Gosch here.)

Süddeutsche Zeitung

After two American journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, were sentenced to 12 years of hard labour in North Korea on Monday, the SZ translates an excerpt from the testimony given to the US Senate in 2002 by Ms. Soon Ok Lee, a survivor of such a work camp: "A prisoner has no right to talk, laugh, sing or look in a mirror. Prisoners must kneel down on the ground and keep their heads down deeply whenever called by a guard, they can say nothing except to answer questions asked. Women prisoners' babies are killed on delivery. Prisoners have to work as slaves for 18 hours daily. Repeated failure to meet the work quotas means a week's time in a punishment cell. A prisoner must give up her human worth." Read the full text in English. - let's talk european