From the Feuilletons


Süddeutsche Zeitung 26.09.2009

Back in the spring, German-Iranian writer Navid Kermani travelled to the Iranian city of Ahmadabad – where Mohammed Mossadeq (the lion) lived and died, Iran's democratically elected leader whose government was overthrown by the CIA in 1959. Among the people his memory is still very much alive, although he is not remembered officially. "During the mass protests that followed the elections on June 12, many of the demonstrators were holding up pictures of Mohammed Mossadeq. But since the White House recogsises Ahmedinejad's government there is reason to fear that the West could abandon the Iranian democracy movement once again, if it meant reaching a compromise on the nuclear issue."

Frankfurter Rundschau

Tobi Müller's review of the "The Prince of Homburg" directed by Andreas Kriegenburg at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin is an homage to the young male lead Ole Lagerpusch: "On his arrest, Homburg doesn't know if he's awake or dreaming. Wide-eyed, Lagerpusch speaks in no more than a whisper, a blissful smile playing on his trembling lips. Expressionism with the volume turned down, the cancer of the oversized fills the private sphere – that's the directorial approach to this devilish text. In precisely the moment that the state sanctions his behaviour, Homburg's feelings peak in their intensity. Homburg is an emo with black hair and eyeliner, who listens to Tokio Hotel in a life of intense placidity. This Homburg reveals how placidity, so long as it is animated solely by a desire for intensity, is susceptible to state violence." See photos of the production here.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 28.09.2009

Gerhard Stadelmaier found Andrea Breth's staging of Kleist's "Broken Jug" nothing less than revolutionary revolutionary. Why? Because the character of Eve – as played by Marie Burchard – becomes the protagonist. "This Eve is as much at odds with her surroundings as her bigger, dramatic Kleist sisters are. And she carries the weight of the world all alone on her little girl's shoulders: the dirt, the injustice, the audacity, the betrayal, the coercion, the blackmail, the anguish, the treachery. Yet she never loses any of the shine of autonomy, of self-awareness. She is the arbitrator of the world, who triumphs over the shards of happiness, her glittering image reflected in every fragment. A small girl maybe, but what a human being."

Die Zeit 01.10.2009

The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is currently living in a cellar under Munich's Haus der Kunst, preparing his exhibition there. Hanno Rauterberg paid him a visit: "'I love Duchamp,' Ai Weiwei exclaims. 'I love his humour, his lack of boundaries. He taught me that an antique chair can be a Readymade, even the Chinese constitution can be a Readymade.' Ai applies the same method to politics and poetry alike. He extracts things from their normal contexts, he wants the Chinese to see their cultural heritage with fresh eyes, take it seriously again, bit by bit, their human rights, word for word. But his ways have not won him too many friends in the West either. He is utterly uncompromising, especially when people tell him that China is not ready for democracy, that such things take decades, even centuries to develop. 'We can't wait three or thirty years,' he says angrily. 'We only have one life. Why should we be patient?"

Die Tageszeitung 02.10.2009

On the publication of his new book, "The History of the West", historian Heinrich August Winkler talks about Western values, which are looking a little worse for wear. "When Obama exercises self-criticism of the West by refering to the founding ideas of the United States, he gives the project some of his shine back. Then we suddenly remember the transatlantic origins of these Western values. For some time I have been angered by the EU's self-congratulatory talk of European values, when so many of them were formulated in North America, before they began their career in Europe. This is something I focus on in my book."

Der Tagesspiegel 02.10.2009

Henryk M. Broder writes the commemorative article for the 20th anniversary celebrations of German Reunification on October 3. No one comes off unscathed in his assessment, even the Ossis (the former East Germans). "Today it seems as if they resent themselves and the West Germans that they were led by the hand into the land of economic miracles. They are behaving like truculent children who are determined to prove that they don't need their parents – but only after they've been given a Playstation, a stereo system, a computer and an iPod."

Psychoanalyst Vera Kattermann gets the reunited Germany onto the couch. "Has the soul of the nation grown together? If you look at its cultural behaviour, there is little evidence of any majority-compatible ideas for a post-Wall identity. The farcical competition for a Berlin Unity monument (the jury rejected all 532 proposals), the one-dimensional celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the Bundesrepublic, and the complete absence of any work by East German artists in the exhibition '60 Years - 60 Works'. In terms of symbolic integration the success rate is exceedingly low."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 02.10.2009

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's masterpiece "Gulag Archipelago" about life in Stalinist labour and concentration camps is about to be introduced to the Russian curriculum, reports Ulrich M. Schmid. Not that the Russians have suddenly decided to take a critical look at their history. No, Schmid says, "this is a clear attempt to canonise a particular interpretation of the Stalinist era, and creating a narrative for 'state' history which does not lose sight of the 'fatherland'. The 'Gulag Archipelago' describes the tragedy of the Russian people as hostages of Stalin's henchmen. It is ideally suited to deflect from the notion of perpetration and propagate that of general self-victimisation." - let's talk european