From the Feuilletons


Germany's new Minister of State for Culture

Prior to Gerhard Schröder, cultural policy in the Federal Republic had been in the hands of the federal states, or Bundesländer. Schröder's government changed that by introducing the post of Minister of State for Culture and the Media, effectively a minister without a ministry. In the run-up to the recent elections, many advocated the creation of a true federal Ministry of Culture. However Germany's new Chancellor Angela Merkel has maintained post of Minister of State, and appointed Bernd Neumann. Jens Bisky, writing in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, sees the choice of the pragmatic professional politician Neumann as a step towards the normalisation of culture in Germany. "Culture will now be treated as other issues are. Some people working in culture may be bothered by that; they're used to dealing with their own, to presupposing a kind of untouchable consent, to looking down at the bureaucrats and politicians in other ministries. Neumann enters his office as a lawyer of politics, not a mouthpiece of all that's true, good and beautiful."

Dirk Knipphals, on the other hand, considers Neumann to be the "ideal Minister of State for Culture for people who consider his office to be basically superfluous." Writing in the die tageszeitung, Knipphals comments: "One thing is worth noting: that the conservatives in this country have very little interest in creating a cultural profile. One annual visit to Bayreuth is the extent of it. But otherwise, they want to be bothered as little as possible in this respect. There has always been in our citizenry a desire to belong to the cultural avant garde. Interesting that the CDU is so uninterested in maintaining this tradition."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 23.11.2005

After laying out the advantages of the female brain over the male (linguistic ability, emotionality) and the male brain over the female (mathematics, orientation), Reinhard Wandtner comes to the following political conclusion: "And now a woman, of all people, is head of government. That is truly exotic. We've become used to men in this position. But a woman? People are at a loss. Of course, you have to bear one thing in mind: as far as behaviour goes, gender differences are by and large steam-rolled on the way to high political offices. What remains is just one universal political sex, and that has male features. We have a new chancellor, and he happens to be a woman."

Die Welt, 23.11.2005

The "European Network for Remembrance and Solidarity" was founded in February of this year, a joint initiative of the governments of Poland, Germany, Hungary and Slovakia. The network is intended as a counter model to the planned "Centre against Expulsion", which represents the interests of Germans expelled from countries formerly included in the German Reich. Gerhard Gnauck talks with Polish historian Andrzej Przewoznik, who has been elected as chairman of the new network. Przewoznik does not want to rule out future cooperation with the "Centre Against Expulsion", although he is critical of its approach: "As a historian, I have the impression that focussing on the theme of expulsion and forced migration will take it out of its context in the history of Europe. Unlike the 'Centre' advocated by Erika Steinbach, head of the German 'Association of Expellees', we want to put the phenomenon back in the context of the two totalitarian systems, and the disaster they wrought on humanity."

Der Tagesspiegel, 23.11.2005

French actress Isabelle Huppert is in Berlin, performing in Sarah Kane's play "4.48 Psychosis", which starts tonight at the Haus der Berliner Festspiele. In the play directed by Claude Regy, Huppert stands practically motionless for almost almost two hours in front of a gauze curtain. She explains in an interview with Eberhard Spreng what fascinates her about the role: "It's not a character, and therefore I can be entirely myself. I'm not limited by having to play this or that feeling. It's more than that, more mysterious, more interesting." The play is for Huppert primarily a text about writing. "The author stages herself in her own pain – until she can no longer bear it. We know Sarah Kane committed suicide shortly after writing the play. But at the same time it's also about someone looking for a precise language. Kane's theatre revolves around form. None of the words make any sense when they're removed from the formal context. That's why I use a special diction in the performance. Realism or naturalism would be completely wrong here. Surprisingly, a lot of emotion also emanates from Kane's clear consciousness of writing. The form functions like armour."

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 23.11.2005

In an interview, rapper Fefe of the French group Saian Supa Crew explains what role rap can play in the suburbs: "Chuck D once demanded that HipHop be the CNN of the ghettos. Many rappers distort the image of the cities, convey a caricature based on the gangsta rap models coming out of America. But who wants to rap about poverty, discrimination and bad education? On our new album, we sing about a black single mother who is trying to get by in Paris. That's a story that's familiar to everyone." - let's talk european