International News Digest

SEPTEMBER 21

Der Standard has reported that the highly anticipated biography of the late artist and theater director Christopher Schlingensief will be released by publisher Kiepenheuer and Witsch on October 10 (after being pushed back from its original release date in 2010) and will be titled I Know, That was Me. Schlingensief’s widow, Aino Laberenz, acted as editor for the book, which describes the artist’s childhood in Oberhausen, his early filmmaking, and his experiences watching Wagner in Bayreuth. The personal diary of Schlingensief dealing with his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer in 2008 sold 150,000 copies.

The Romanian government has enacted severe budget cuts that have drastically, if not fatally, affected the arts. Romania’s state cultural broadcasting network, TVR Cultural, will be shut down while the cultural institute ICR will have its budget cut by a third. Further, the National Cultural Fund will not longer receive any support from revenue generated by the state lottery. The Romanian blog portal Voxpublica has suggested that the nation’s prime minister, Victor Ponta (who was previously covered in this column for controversially dismissing several directors of cultural institutions) has declared an open war on culture. One post states, “Of course, by national comparison, the ‘savings’ that result from these cuts are laughable. None of Romania's major problems will be solved with the few million Euros saved. The only thing that will really be ‘executed’ is the meager support allocated to people working in the cultural sector. In fact the cuts are both a highly irresponsible gesture vis--vis our country’s culture and an act of vengeance against all those vocal people who won’t let themselves be gagged or pushed around.”

In Berlin, it seems that promises cannot always be kept. The city told the influential photography venue c/o Berlin in September that it would have a new location in Monbijoupark after space after losing its home in Postfuhramt in Berlin-Mitte. However, this promise looks like it will be broken, as the development plan in place for the new site states that it can only be used as a green space––not as a cultural venue. While the city’s communal parliament unanimously voted in favor of the move, Carsten Spallek, of the city council for urban development in Mitte, told Die Sueddeutsche Zeitung that it would take at least one year before the building permit could be given even if the City Development Committee improbably made a decision in the coming weeks.

The painting Ready-Made de l’Histoire dans Caf de Flore by artist Jrg Immendorff has been declared a fake—or more accurately, not painted by the artist—by Immendorff expert Siegfried Gohr, Immendorff’s widow, Oda Jaune, and dealer Michael Werner. Gohr says, “'If it’s the same artist, I have to give up my reputation, I think.” But the owner of the painting, who claims that he purchased it in 1999, has a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist, who died in 2007. Besides raising the question of who can decide the fate of a dead artist’s work, this particular case is interesting, according to Catrin Lorch of Die Sueddeutsche Zeitung, because Immendorff sold many works at inexpensive prices straight from his studio during the later phase of his life, he was not actually painting these works himself, but rather giving general directions to his assistants who then generated the pieces. Lorch questioned the intent of the widow, expert, and gallerist, who she suspects are interested in keeping fewer of Immendorff’s works in circulation and therefore increasing the value of his art that they control. Suggested Lorch, “To say that only quality equals authenticity is not accurate in this case. It was precisely the cheap mass-produced works, now considered wooden and flat, that were the real ‘Immes’ of his last years.”