International News Digest


The artist and director Christoph Schlingensief has been selected to represent Germany at the next Venice Biennale in 2011. As the Süddeutsche Zeitung reports, the curator for the German pavilion Susanne Gaensheimer confirmed the choice with the newspaper. Schlingensief is no stranger to Venice, where he staged his Church of Fear in 2003. The director is currently rehearsing Via Intolleranza II, which will
be presented in Brussels, Hamburg, and Vienna, as part of his opera village project in Burkina Faso. Via Intolleranza II takes its inspiration from the action opera Intolleranza 1960 from the composer Luigi Nono. This project is expected to form part of his presentation for the German pavilion.


The Louvre has missed a chance to rock ‘n’ roll around the pyramid. As Le Monde’s Nathaniel Herzberg and Sylvain Siclier report, a concert planned for June 18 and 19 in the Napoléon courtyard has been canceled. Organized by the weekly publication Les Inrockuptibles, the concert would have included performances by Mika, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Phoenix, and Vampire Weekend. While the Louvre had welcomed the plan, the veto came from the French minister of culture Frédéric Mitterrand. “It’s an historical monument,” said Mitterrand, “extremely fragile and difficult to make secure.” Other reasons for the veto included an AC/DC concert at the same time in the Stade de France as well as commemorations for Charles de Gaulle’s “Appeal of June 18” speech to the French resistance in 1940. Yet organizers Louis Dreyfus and Dominique Revert believe that the real problem is the Solidays music festival organized by Solidarité Sida, an alliance of French groups working in the struggle against AIDS. Although Solidays 2010 takes place on June 25–27 at the Hippodrome, Dreyfus and Revert claim that their Louvre concert was canceled because it was perceived as competition for Solidays.


Can globalization aggravate losses in translation? That seems to be the experience of the French artist Zineb Sedira whose exhibition at the Musée National Pablo-Picasso in Vallauris, France, was closed down––and then reopened––because the subtitles in one of her video projections offended former Algerian Muslim soldiers loyal to the French during the Algerian War.

As Le Monde’s Philippe Dagen reports, Sedira––born in Paris, based in London, and with family roots in Algeria––interviewed her mother about the Algerian War for the projection Retelling Histories: My Mother Told Me, 2009. During the video––Sedira asks questions in French while her mother responds in Arabic––the mother refers to the “harki,” which has become a derogatory term for Algerian Muslim soldiers and others who were repatriated in France after the end of the war in 1962. In both the English and French subtitles for the video, “harki” was translated as “collaborator.” While the English “collaborator” can be used to describe those who collaborated with the French in Algeria, the French word collaborateur has a more fixed––and negative––historical meaning and refers to the French who collaborated with the Nazis during the Occupation in World War II.

After two groups of veterans of the Algerian War complained about the translation, the artist made a correction in the subtitles, only to discover that the exhibition had been prematurely closed down. According to the report, the mayor of Vallauris, Alain Gumiel, made the decision as a “security measure” after receiving complaints from the veterans. “What would people say if agitators entered and broke the cameras?” said Gumiel, evoking his “great respect” for the veterans and their community in the city. While Dagen described the closure as censorship, the exhibition was reopened three days later with a corrected version of the subtitles.