From the Feuilletons


Egypt's Sunken Treasures in Berlin

This evening a much awaited exhibition of "Egypt's Sunken Treasures" with over 2000 years of finds from the Egyptian Mediterranean will open in Berlin's Martin Gropius Bau.

Sonia Zekri reports in the Süddeutsche Zeitung that the exhibition will be opened by Hosny Mubarak and Horst Köhler. "For Mubarak it's a nice occasion. Egypt's image has deteriorated more than that of any other nation, to a crumbled centre of despotism, torture and fundamentalism that's also home to a bunch of brilliant antiques. In Alexandria, this contrast is particularly glaring. Today the city is a stronghold of Muslim brotherhoods; a few weeks ago, blood flowed again between Muslims and Copts. Generally speaking, cultural flexibility has been on the wane since the time of Ptolemy. The grand mufty Ali Gomaa recently issued a fatwa which made erecting statues a sin. Its exegetes explain that it only applies to non-Islamic idols in private homes, and not in museums and public spaces."

Writing in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Dieter Bartetzko was particularly taken by a sexy female statue of polished green stone: "You stand in front of this high-breasted beauty, voluptuous and yet graceful as Aphrodite, posing with dignity like Isis, chief goddess of Egypt. Her body is draped with a gauzy robe, knotted over her breast as if sopping wet. From the style and details it can be identified as the Ptolemaic queen Arsinoe, shown as a combination of two figures, namely Aphrodite arising from the sea and the life-giving Isis. The Hellenistic and Egyptian art forms are so perfectly combined in this statue (image), the eternal pathos of the ancient Orient blends so matter-of-factly with the spontaneity of Mediterranean Antiquity that you can only look up in envy at this synthesis that makes our rag-tag endeavours at a 'multicultural' condition look like bungling incompetence."

Die Zeit, 11.05.2006

"Since April 27, the 46 year old philosopher Ramin Jahanbegloo has found himself in the notorious Evin Prison in the Iranian capital. He wanted to go to a congress in Brussels but was arrested in Tehran's airport. What he has been charged with remains unclear. He was the first member of the opposition to have been arrested since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power," reports Jörg Lau and fears that "Jahanbegloo's arrest could be the beginning of a new wave of repression against the lively Iranian scene to which he contributed in tough times with books, lectures and essays." Here Jahanbegloo's website with his biography and numerous articles.

Die Welt, 11.05.2006

Perhaps it's too early to talk about a crisis, but the Berliner Philharmoniker under Sir Simon Rattle has clearly exhausted its potential for surprise, writes Manuel Brug: "Good feelings and no pain. Moments of true challenge or widened horizons are few and far between. Yes, Simon Rattle has brought the musicians of the Philharmoniker closer to musical praxis of the past. He programs much French music and keeps variety at a maximum. He has tuned the orchestra more transparently, but it also sounds more neutral. He enthuses the general public with standard patter and the education program, which is flourishing thanks to Deutsche Bank. But at the same time he gives experts cause for doubt because he doesn't develop, because he blithely diversifies without specialising at all. You get the feeling Berlin for him is still a little bit like Birmingham. He doesn't work on the great German symphonic works with this major orchestra – above all the work of Anton Bruckner – and he doesn't depart to new shores."

Frankfurter Rundschau, 11.05.2006

"You have to approach this building from above, like a bird. Or climb up the Eiffel Tower to look over it," suggests Martina Meister with reference to Jean Nouvel's most recent masterpiece, the Parisian museum for non-European art and civilisation. "Nouvel's colleagues are going to be jealous of the location alone: Quai Branly. Right on the Seine, almost at the foot of the Eiffel tower, the museum sits on a 2.5 hectare piece of land which – like a miracle – lay empty in the midst of Paris' densely built sea of stone. And more unusual is the urbanistic symmetry. Seen from the bird's eye perspective, the Quai Branly in the west of Paris looks like the mirrored correspondence to Nouvel's 'Institut du Monde Arabe' in the east, which took its highly visible place on the Seine almost two decades ago."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 11.05.2006

Axel Timor Purr reports that Microsoft has now also discovered the African continent as a market and – a year after OpenOffice – has come out with a Swahili version of Windows XP. "It's true, in East Africa computers are virtually unattainable luxury items owned by only around one percent of the population. But unlike the book, the computer - known in Swahili as both 'Kompyuta' and 'Tarakilishi' ('that which is fed numbers') - is now omnipresent. There are now Internet cafes with integrated office services and small IT schools even in areas not hooked up to the electricity network, or in others that often have week-long power outages. Here diesel generators are part of the standard set-up." - let's talk european