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Diary Weimar (2): what would Nietzsche have thought of it (or his sister)?

I had - in a previous house - a neighbour who gave a young tree in front of our apartment complex a bucket of water every day. He had a thing for trees, as he had brought back some Sequoia seeds from a trip to the US, back in the day. He had put these in the ground in various places.

One near the house, and it was cut down a few years ago, due to possible foundation damage, when it had reached a height of 15 metres.

Grief all around, but our ex-neighbour has been assured. A new sequoia is growing in an unknown spot in our park, and we all hope that the municipality will not notice it until it reaches 150 metres tall.


Then perhaps love for a simple weed tree like the maple tree about which I attended a monologue in Weimar is a bit too profane. Still, it fascinates, but for other reasons: Art City Weimar, and the Kunstfest Weimar that is its showpiece, shifts excitingly between benevolent amateurism and high art.

Not that the performance Eschenliebe was amateurish, but we won't immediately knock over Holland Festival programming for it either, shall we say.

I can tell you that the interview with theatre legend Bob Wilson went better than expected: we talked about Mickery and about the new generation of theatre-makers he teaches in New York, and only two anecdotes came along. An achievement, if you follow interviews on YouTube a bit. The interview will appear in Theaterkrant magazine later this year. Things are now moving in the right direction with Wilson's fragile health, which was felled by a stroke last year. Let's pray.

Nietzsche is not dead

This afternoon I saw a special exhibition at a the Neues Museum Weimar that you will never get to see in the Netherlands: the furniture of Friedrich Nietzsche. The house in which he spent his last sick years in Weimar was closed during the GDR years, and by now nothing in the building, which now houses the Nietzsche archive, reminds you of Germany's greatest, and most controversial, philosopher.

Nietzsche was a thinker in Basel and surrounding areas; once in Weimar, he was a mental patient in the grip of his sister Elisabeth, who secured her retirement by reconstructing him in her anti-Semitic likeness. The Neues Museum now has access to the furniture in the house where Nietzsche died. They are not displayed in a reconstruction of the house, but packed in boxes, as the museum wants to emphasise that they were mostly ordinary furniture, which had nothing to do with Nietzsche's ideas.

Art Nouveau

Painted black by Elisabeth for unclear reasons, they did have a role in her double life. She flirted with Art Nouveau in the public parts of the pilgrimage site she created, but in her own home, and that of her dying brother, black-painted bourgeois furniture predominated.

Weimar is saddled with this legacy, and the museum wants to avoid at all costs that Nietzsche's death house becomes another place of pilgrimage. Tricky, now that the cult around the inventor of the Úbermensch and advocate of a united Europe is starting to take on unhealthy forms.

Nazi art

Internally, all is not running smoothly yet, a worried curator explained to me. An exhibition on Nazi art is planned next year. She is against that. But others think you should be able to show those too.

We also had that debate in the Netherlands following the expo in Den Bosch. Here, in Weimar, it all feels a bit more urgent.

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Wijbrand Schaap

Cultural journalist since 1996. Worked as theatre critic, columnist and reporter for Algemeen Dagblad, Utrechts Nieuwsblad, Rotterdams Dagblad, Parool and regional newspapers through Associated Press Services. Interviews for TheaterMaker, Theatererkrant Magazine, Ons Erfdeel, Boekman. Podcast maker, likes to experiment with new media. Culture Press is called the brainchild I gave birth to in 2009. Life partner of Suzanne Brink roommate of Edje, Fonzie and Rufus. Search and find me on Mastodon.View Author posts

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