From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 12.06.2010

"I want art as poetry, poetry! Art is poetry! People need poetry," cries Swiss art historian Jean-Christophe Ammann, in an interview in which he explains why he's had enough of global art concepts as propagated by Okwui Enwezor and Co. "The very principle of the globalised exhibition eliminates something from Occidental culture. And no art in the world can compare with that of the Christian West in terms of the enourmous variety of forms and styles it has produced in just 1600 years." What is being eliminated is "everything that has influenced our Christian anthropology: desire, pain, ecstasy and asceticism. And of course anything to do with the body, and the female body in particular. Because the female body is always a bone of contention – but its display as the female nude, for example, is part of the history of Western art."

Die Tageszeitung 12.06.2010

Judith Reker has been checking out South African design in Capetown's Woodstock district. What makes is so strongly anchored in the present is its almost complete lack of history. "The apartheid decades did not only involve sanctions from abroad but also a walling-off from the inside. South Africa's youth today, who were weaned on MTV, would be hard put to imagine that TV was banned in their country until 1976. This early isolation severed us from the influence of foreign trends and created a delayed design awareness. For furniture designer Gregor Jenkin this has had a positive effect in retrospect. "It is not like in Sweden where you have to orient your way around hundreds of Swedish designers who have already formed an image of what constitutes Swedish design."

Frankfurter Rundschau

The new book "Stadt der Engel" (city of angels) by renowned former East German writer Christa Wolf, is full of parallels with the writer's own life. Its first person female narrator flees to Los Angeles when the public gets wind of her past collaboration with the GDR regime. Arno Widman found it made extremely uncomforable reading: "It is the delusional element which makes the book impossible to enjoy, and yet so real at the same time. It becomes even more real - if such a thing were possible - because the author puts no distance between herself and the delusions of her narrator, seeming instead to live them out. All the scathing judgements she makes about politics and society in the USA are less about the narrator shedding her guilt, than the documents of a mind that is focussed on Wolf's own history, on her 'own' country."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 14.06.2010

The sociologist Necla Kelek presents a study (pdf document in German) carried out under the supervision of criminologist Christian Pfeiffer on the readiness of young Muslims to integrate. The results show a correlation between strength of religious belief and a refusal to integrate. Kelek blames the Imams primarily, or rather the organisations which bring in conservative Imams from Muslim countries. The state should intervene and educate, Kelek says. More importantly: "Instead of promoting religious group identities and the interests of organisations, attention must be focussed on strengthening individual personalities, particularly among children. If Imams want to be part of German civil society, they will have to learn to reflect on religion and daily life with critical reasoning and to participate in public debate about civil rights."

Die Welt 15.06.2010

A year after the disputed elections in Iran and the regime has imprisoned more bloggers and journalists than almost any other country in the world, Oliver M. Piecha reports. He also comments on the dwindling public support for the regime. "The pro-government media obviously felt obliged to report that millions of Iranians had taken to the streets in protest against Israel following events off the coast of Gaza, but they wisely refrained from featuring photographs."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

In the Slovak elections, the left-wing populist incumbent Prime Minister Robert Fico and the extreme right were dealt devastating blows by the electorate, and younger voters in particular, author Michael Hvorecky comments gleefully: "Twenty years after the end of communism, Slovakia just might see a woman in charge at last. As the leader of the conservative democrats, sociologist Iveta Radiova plans to continue the cost-cutting and stability programme. She won with her plan for sustainable restructuring of the ramshackle state budget and effective steps to combat corruption. And two new, liberal-leaning parties have made it into the National Assembly with a sensational slew of votes. Bela Bugar's 'Most-Hid' (bridge) party is focussed on multicultural co-existence and is popular with Slovaks who are sick to the teeth of the pseudo conflicts with neighbouring states."

Frankfurter Rundschau

In an interview, writer Geert Mak tells Michael Hess that the Dutch election results stem less from a swing to the right than from an increase in provincialism. "Our problems and their solutions are European, but our democratic theatre is still very national. Democracy still has a national dimension for the voters. It has not found its way onto the European stage. A public European debate is still not underway. We all pay a high price for this because it means debates are getting more provincial all the time. Frustration about Europe forces people to take refuge in provincialism because they feel unable to make themselves heard on a European level. And yet our opportunities and hopes lie in Europe."

Der Tagesspiegel 16.06.2010

The conductor Ingo Mezmacher handed in his resignation shortly after sweeping job cuts were announced at the Deutsche Symphonie Orchester. Christiane Peitz attended his farewell concert of Beethhoven's Sixth: "No showing off at the end, no defiance, no pomp. Only cheeriness, friendliness, tenderness even. Metzmacher leaves the Deutsche Symphonie Orchester after just three years as its head conductor. Many people put it on a par with the Philharmoniker or the Staatskapelle – but without the financial resources." - let's talk european