Book look: Jon Gnarr

A new political movement, the Best Party, made headlines all over the world in 2010 – only one year after having been established. Following the party’s success gnarrin the council election, its founder Jon Gnarr became mayor of the federal capital Reykjavik.

ow Gnarr – who is still in office – presents his autobiography. In “Hören Sie gut zu und wiederholen Sie!!! Wie ich einmal Bürgermeister wurde und die Welt veränderte”, the former cab driver and comedian tells the extraordinary story of his political success. He writes about the first steps of his party based on a stand-up comedy sketch. Gnarr, 47, also reveals his visions – and weaknesses. The charismatic rebel explains how he reformed the city’s fiscal policy.

In her brief foreword, Icelandic pop star Björk praises the unusual politician for overcoming stagnation in politics with his “explosive humour”. She concludes: “The Best Party has changed Iceland!”

Hören Sie gut zu und wiederholen Sie!!!
By Jon Gnarr
Published by Tropen (www.tropen.de)

Book look: the Muslim Brotherhood

1Two years ago, Petra Ramsauer published a remarkable book about the Arab spring. In “Mit Allah an die Macht. So verändern Arabiens Revolutionen unsere Welt”, she explained how the different national resistance movements worked and analysed their chances for success. Her book dealt with political, sociological and religious issues.

Now Ramsauer has once more focused on the complex matter. This time around, she focused on the Muslim Brotherhood. The Austrian journalist – who has been filing reports from crisis regions all over the world for two decades – investigated the network of the organisation which also covers Europe. She explains how the Muslim Brotherhood is organised in Vienna, Brussels and Munich. Only recently, London-based papers claimed that the organisation was considering relocating their European headquarter from the United Kingdom to Graz in the Austrian province of Styria following investigations by the British government.

Hundreds of members of the controversial brotherhood – which is allegedly driven by an increasingly radical ideology – have been sentenced to death while the union’s leaders are behind bars. In “Muslimbrüder. Ihre geheime Strategie – Ihr globales Netzwerk”, Ramsauer examines whether accusations are true that the organisation supports terror against democratic institutions. She does not limit her investigations on Egypt where Mohamed Morsi, the presidential election candidate of the Muslim brotherhood, was deprived of power the country’s military after just one year in office. The Concordia Award laureate also reports from Syria and Libya. Her book is a precise analysis of the influential organisation which is active in almost 80 countries.

Muslimbrüder. Ihre geheime Strategie – Ihr globales Netzwerk
By Petra Ramsauer
Published by Molden Verlag (www.styriabooks.at)

Apocalyptic art and anti-Semitism

A large number of television documentaries, several exhibitions and dozens of books – Europe is commemorating the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War One.

Curators at Vienna’s Jewish Museum named the current special exhibition “Weltuntergang. Jüdisches Leben und Sterben im Ersten Weltkrieg” (Doomsday – Jewish Life and Death in World War I). The exhibit’s dramatic title emphasises the significant effects of the devastating conflict which claimed hundreds of thousands of victims.
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“Weltuntergang” features a wide spectrum of wartime souvenirs and all kinds of documents, but also artistic highlights such as a series of paintings which depict a soldier’s apocalyptic visions. The Jewish member of the Austrian-Hungarian army – one of around 300,000 Jewish soldiers fighting for the Habsburg Empire between 1914 and 1918 – allegedly created the paintings in the trenches on the Eastern front. Other remarkable parts of the exhibition are a portrait of Victor Adler and two paintings by Oskar Kokoschka.

Focusing on political propaganda after the First World War was a good decision by the exhibition’s creators. Several walls of the showrooms are covered with election campaign posters of political groups in Austria, some of them of fiercely anti-Semitic content. “Weltuntergang” does not end in the era of Austrofascism. It also contains a section which tells developments in the Austrian military to the present day.

>> http://www.jmw.at

Book look: Marco Polo Milan

mpMilan may not have as many classic sights to offer as Rome, Paris or Vienna. However, the northern Italian city has always been an important economic centre. Milan is also a great place for shopping – or window shopping if you give up in the face of the sky-high prices for designer clothing, accessories and furniture.

The Marco Polo travel guide is a reliable navigator through the hectic streets of the city centre. It features lots of information about Milan Cathedral, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, and Sforza Castle. Furthermore, author Bettina Dürr provides useful tips regarding accommodation and dining in the city with its infamously overpriced hotels and restaurants.

Dürr did not just write about Milan. Her guide also informs about ideal destinations for day trips in the Lombardy region such as Bergamo, Mantua and Brescia.

Marco Polo: Mailand & Lombardei
By Bettina Dürr
Published by Marco Polo (www.marcopolo.de)

Lower Saxony: lots of highlights

The German region of Lower Saxony has more to offer one may think – and, thanks to a direct connection provided by Air Berlin – the area is becoming and increasingly popular holiday destination for Austrians.

Hanover is not just a city where several fairs are taking place. It is also a centre for modern art. One of the city’s museums, the Kestnergesellschaft, is currently presenting interesting works by rising stars of the English culture scene (“Pool. Kunst aus London”, Pool. Art from London).
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Tourists and business travellers staying in Hanover can travel conveniently to Wolfsburg by train. And, no: not all of the attractions of the ‘car city’ are about automobiles. Wolfsburg also has a great gallery for paintings and other objects of art, the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg.

The museum – a spectacular and beautiful building – is currently presenting a comprehensive exhibition of paintings by Oskar Kokoschka (“Humanist und Rebell”, Humanist and Rebel). Portraits of people close to him such as friends and lover Alma Mahler are part of the exhibit. However, most impressive are his animal studies. A whole room is dedicated to this kind of art created by the influential Austrian artist who died at the age of 93 in Montreux, Switzerland, in 1980.
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Another highlight of Wolfsburg is the Volkswagen Automuseum in Dieselstraße where car enthusiasts get to see legendary VW models but also remarkable prototypes. The venue’s showroom features several Golf models, rally cars and military vehicles.

Lower Saxony is also becoming more and more an important location for sports. Apart from being a Football Bundesliga city, Hanover has developed into host of one of the country’s biggest Marathons. Around 18,000 people participated in the various competitions which took place last month: the Marathon, the Half-Marathon, a 10-kilometre run and many other challenges. Ideal weather and the support by several percussion groups and other musicians guaranteed a great day for athletes and spectators. Next year, the Hannover Marathon will take place on 19 April.

>> http://www.kestnergesellschaft.de

>> http://www.kunstmuseum-wolfsburg.de

>> automuseum.volkswagen.de

>> http://www.marathon-hannover.de

Exciting Egger-Lienz

A new art exhibit helps to understand the era of Albin Egger-Lienz.Totentanz

The artist, who was born near Lienz in 1868, created a series of paintings called “Totentanz” (Danse Macabre) in 1908. The works are among the most important parts of his oeuvre. Now the paintings – as well as other depictions of conflicts, poverty and mourning by Egger-Lienz and other painters – are presented in an exhibition at Belvedere Palace in Vienna-Landstraße (www.belvedere.at).

Apart from these brilliant pieces of art, important works by Max Beckmann, Käthe Kollwitz, Eduard Thöny and other artists of that period are on display. Furthermore, “Totentanz. Egger-Lienz und der Krieg” (Danse Macabre: Egger-Lienz and the War) offers detailed information about the sociological and political circumstances of that time. These facts help visitors to understand the intentions of the artists.

However, the exhibit does not just inform about the life of the artists and the population in rural and urban regions. It also draws the crowds thanks to rich information regarding the techniques of Egger-Lienz – one of the most important Austrian artists of the past 150 years – and his contemporaries.

Stars and space

Two brilliant photo exhibitions are currently causing a stir in Vienna. 2

At the Kunst Haus Wien in Landstraße district, some of the best photos by Andreas H. Bitesnich are on display. The exhibition focuses on what Bitesnich created in the past 25 years in Bitesnich. It contains remarkable portraits of celebrities like the Klitschko brothers, Christian Vieri, Ernst Happel and Jane Goodall. Another important part of the exhibition are his large-scale erotic nudes. Some of his models’ flawless bodies are twisted in adventurous manner.

Bitesnich is brutally honest when it comes to portraying poverty in megacities like Delhi. His images showing poor and ill people on the streets of cities in India and Cambodia are heart-wrenching. Bitesnich also managed to create realistic reflections of life in Paris, New York City and Tokyo, as the black and white photographs on display at the Kunst Haus Wien prove.

A rather small part of the exhibit which must not be missed by visitors is a display case showing nude photographs taken in 1919 by Rudolf Hochwald – Bitesnich’s grandfather.
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Meanwhile, visitors of the Westlicht gallery in Vienna-Neubau are fascinated by a totally different kind of photographic art. A new exhibit called “Völlig losgelöst. Die Geschichte der Weltraumfotografie” (Zero Gravity. The History of Space Photography) features images of planets, galaxies and comets. Some of the photos resemble paintings due to their colours which sometimes appear almost unreal and artificial. Some photographs do really only show what orbs look like. However, others are reworked to make relevant aspects visible.

At least as much interesting as the images of distant planets are photos showing the NASA’s preparation for the legendary flight of Apollo 11 in 1969. Photos taken on the moon are on display as well as pictures showing Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins after their return.

>> http://www.kunsthauswien.com

>> http://www.westlicht.com