From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Frankfurter Rundschau 17.04.2010

To celebrate the 50th birthday of the German star painter Neo Rauch, both Munich and his home town Leipzig, have staged major exhibtions. Sebastian Preuss visited both and takes us through the artist's rise to fame one more time. "Around 1997, Rauch starts making the paintings that will give him global success. He taps into a reservoir of socialist realism and antiquated U.S. advertising, he constructs absurd fairytales, he helps himself to comic book elements and household objects. There is no end to the combinations in this pool. It all looks strangely familiar, but turns out to be just timeless, placeless world theatre. He is actually not depicting anything at all; the pseudo-connections between motifs, scenes and highly specific titles only pretend to amount to something. This is essentially art Informel in figurative fragments."

From the blogs 20.04.2010

At, Ilja Braun introduces the online game "Cat Protect" which the German Book Trade Association has invented to teach children about the importance of copyright. "The game ends when Daark is trapped in a jam jar. 'When you drag the jar onto the image, Daark is imprisoned forever as a frightening example of what happens to people who engage in illegal copying!'"

Süddeutsche Zeitung 20.04.2010

Catrin Lorch portrays Neo Rauch as a very German painter. "Both sides of Germany can look at his paintings as if they were looking into a shared mirror, and although Rauch has perhaps not contributed to their understanding one another, he has certainly united them in mutual alienation."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung

In a fascinating interview with Eren Güvercin, the French political scientist Olivier Roy discusses Islam in Europe. He is quick to distance himself from the term "Islamophobia": "Is Islamophobia just another form of racism that specifically targets people with Muslim names – with no regard to their concept of faith? Or is it the rejection of a religion? There are militant anti-racists who are against the veil – among the feminists for example, and there are racists who think the veil is irrelevant because they regard Muslims as quintessentially other. What makes this so untenable is the lack of dintinction between ethnicity and religion. Of course the great majority of European Muslims originally stem from other cultures but the connection between ethnic background and religion is dissolving – with Europeans converting to Islam and Muslims converting to Christianity."

From the blogs 21.04.2010

Via @wblau, in its official blog, Google reports that it has started to produce statistics on requests by national governments to block access to online content. Germany is currently in second place.

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 22.04.2010

In an interview with Ulrich M. Schmid, Arseni Roginski, head of the human rights organisation Memorial, talks about Russia's distorted self-image and its refusal to work through its past: "The constant stream of propaganda under the Czars and particularly in the Soviet Union and under Putin has engraved in the Russian mind the conviction that we do nothing but good in the world. We saved Europe from fascism and we get only ingratitude in return. Working through the past, and this includes Katyn, destroys our constructed memory and compels us to account for not having only done good in the world at all times. The Russians need to be forced to reflect on evildoings. We have to take on civic responsibility for the crimes of our rulers." And he calls for a court ruling on the crimes in Katyn: "At present Memorial is losing every case that has anything to do with events in Katyn, with the opening of the archives or the rehabilitation of the victims."

Süddeutsche Zeitung 22.04.2010

The paper prints an essay by the writer Olga Tokaczuk on the "neurotic theatre of Catholic nationalism" which has overtaken her country in the wake of the tragedy in Smokensk. And she is fiercely critical of the Catholic Church for assuming control of the funeral service. "As administrator of most of the national symbols and monuments, the Catholic Church controls all access to them, which gives it unlimited potential for political and social manipulation. The decision to bury the Kazcynszkis in the crypt of the Wawel cathedral was a demonstration of feudal power, an unambiguous gesture, which took place without any consultation of wider society and with blatant disregard for the growing social and political divide."

Süddeutsche Zeitung 23.04.2010

Gustav Seibt describes the scandals in the Catholic Church, and Bishop Mixa's offer of resignation in particular, as nothing less than revolutionary. Now that individuals are starting to step so visibly out of the shadows of their institution, the Church, almost unbeknown to itself, is entering an identity crisis. "It is reminiscent of some of the bizarre occurrences during the fall of the communist regime twenty years ago, when the rulers such Stasi-head Erich Mielke suddenly stood up in front of the cameras and declared 'But I love you all'. Here, too, the functionary disappeared behind an obviously disoriented individual."

Die Tageszeitung 23.04.2010

Arno Frank reports on the Islamists who threatened the creators of the cartoon series "South Park", after Mohammad appeared on the show in a bear costume (watch here). Julian Weber comments: "It took quite some doing to recover from the Victorian age where even piano legs were considered erotic enough to need covering up. Our Middle Ages 2.0, where God's warriors tinkle the ivories of the media by pairing modern communication technology with archaic humourlessness, is far more unpleasant." - let's talk european