Genzken’s Art, Genet’s Drama, Amy Winehouse Remembered


“I’m Isa Genzken. The Only Female Fool”

Isa Genzken

That’s the title of her current exposition at the Kunsthalle at Vienna. The former wife of famous painter Gerhard Richter had a well-appreciated exhibition in 2013 at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).

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“New York doesn’t depress you – opposite to Berlin,” was her statement on behalf of her exposition at Vienna, a strange access for people who are accustomed to paintings. I liked her work, her “New Buildings for Berlin” and, of course, her fantastic “ellipsoid” and “hyperbolos” and, above all, her “changing cubicles”: ten small huts, exposed on steles, describe our different attitudes to secretiveness and exposure, a wide range.

The exhibit’s curator is Nicolaus Schafhausen. The exhibit runs from May 28th – September 7th, 2014.

Vienna Festival 2014

Supporters and opponents of political correctness had a violent argument via the Internet about the title of one of the productions of the Vienna Festival 2014: Jean Genet and his drama “Les nègres” (The negroes) written in 1958 – a crude drama full of racist clichés. “One evening”, Genet said, “I was asked to write a drama only with black actors to act in it. But what is a black really? And above all, which color?”

Jean Genet

Political-correctness supporters argued that the negative connotation of ‘negro’ is a fact, and the Vienna Festival should change the title or even better cut the whole production. Opponents, among them the translator Peter Stein—formerly in the late ’60s chief of the famous Berlin theatre Schaubühne, argued not to alter a title chosen by Genet only to be compliant.

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Johan Simon, director of the Münchner Kammerspiele (Munich Playhouse), had worked with a cast of 14 artists. The major parts were performed by one black artist and one black-faced artist – all others had white and black masks and fantastic costumes.

His interpretation did not support the discussion nor undercover the structure of social power – it was a quite peaceful evening without powers to stimulate.

A few days later the Austrian secretary for education/culture Gabriele Heinisch-Hosek sent a brochure to all schools and teachers “to encourage to use the Austrian German, for example ‘Paradeiser’ (fruit from paradise) instead of the german ‘Tomate’ (tomato)”…No comment!

In both languages a ‘highlight’ is a highlight: and the highlight of this year’s Vienna Festival is, no doubt, Oscar winner (“L’ Amour,” 2013) Michael Haneke and his views of W. A. Mozart‘s opera “Così fan tutte” with Sylvain Cambreling, a well-recommended conductor, at the desk.

“Why has well-to-do Don Alfonso married only Despina, who is, after all, a stranger twenty years younger than he? Why are they all so desperate, so grimly determined and so proud?”

These and more questions are offered by Haneke – and his interpretation leads on to the bitter end—the marriage of two cheated couples and two slaps in the face: Don Alfonso and Despina – two relatives of “George and Martha – sad, sad, sad…”

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You can direct the Così differently but not better. That was the unanimous judgment of all the visitors.

The Vienna Festival ends June 15.

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P.E.N. Vienna

The P.E.N. Vienna (poets, essayists, novelists, founded in 1923 by C.A.D. Scott) had invited philosophers and physicists to debate the linguistic discourse about quantum physics. Mathematics create knowledge; language has it pass on. Translation is difficult and mostly unambiguous:

“We live in an epoch, in which knowledge is divided,” said the philosopher Pravu Mazumdar. “The right hand doesn’t know about the left.” In following Michel Foucault and his theories, Mazumdar’s conclusion says that the unity of knowledge can only be realized when different forms of language can co-exist.

Albertina and Jewish Museums and More

The Albertina Museum proudly announced the generous donation of Alex Katz, a world famous painter and graphic artist of New York/Maine.

More than 60 drawings and cardboards are now presented in the Albertina – “You can’t take them with you,” the newspapers quoted the 86-year-old artist. This show accompanies the artist from early sketches from the subway, to sketches in ballpoint on parties, to screen printing, linocut and painting….a world of its own.

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Amy Winehouse in later days.

The Jewish Museum: Vienna shows Amy Winehouse as a member of her family – a wonderful, lovable portrait of an unknown girl! A loving work of her brother in London, Alex Winehouse, and the team of the Jewish Museum London and Vienna.

Ileana Cotrubas, living at Vienna, had her debut at the Met in 1977: Mimi (“La Bohème”), later on Gilda (“Rigoletto”) and Violetta (“La Traviata”) “the possible best Violetta”, conducted by ingenious Carlos Kleiber, (2004) son of Ruth Goodrich and Erich Kleiber. Congratulation to Ileana Cotrubas and 75 years!

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Remember all the fuss about the Burgtheater? The director, Matthias Hartmann, was fired, an interim director was installed: Karin Bergmann who will run the Burgtheater until June 2016.

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And at the end of June, exactly the 27th, the labor court will enter into the hearings Hartmann v. Burgtheater.

Dürer, Michelangelo, Rubens: the show in the Albertina will end on June 29th!

So please hurry and let me know when you are coming to Vienna: it will be an honor for me to accompany you to the court and to the exhibition…

So long, good-bye and Auf Wiedersehen!