Christine Madden

journalist | editor | dramaturg | literary translator

Author: cmadmin (page 2 of 11)

International Women’s Day Berlin

Berlin’s new bank holiday gives birth to a revealing performance

The Growler, aka artist Dee Mulrooney, appearing on stage in Berlin

It’s not every day you get to watch a giant vulva reveal itself on stage to the lilting tones of Ave Maria sung sean-nós. It was a tonic after a week of running after film clips, dodging the raindrops and asking for views on Berlin’s sparkling new International Women’s Day bank holiday. And where else but Berlin would you get it?

Apart from all the demonstrations, strikes, information days, breakfasts, there were evening parties and club events. This one, however, put together by Nina Hynes and Dee Mulrooney, two of the initiators and organisers of last year’s Craw Festival, nested itself in the intimate back room of the Wein-Salon in Berlin-Friedrichshain. Nina Hynes performed on a variety of instruments and sometimes belted, sometimes whispered out her own tunes about womanhood. For one song, she split the audience down the middle – the fault line cleaved between my husband and me – with one side panting out a rhythmic high E, the other chanting out a low “vul-va, vul-va, vul-va”. For those without a “vul-va”, Hynes suggested, they could share one with someone else – but only by invitation. 

Then she switched styles to the reverential, crooning Ave Maria – the cue for the Growler, aka Deirdre Mulrooney, who shed her Tizian-blue mantle to expose herself in wavy layers of red, complete with a nub of a pink cap. Her performance combined singing and stand-up, infused with a kind of native, feral spirituality. It had us in stitches – until she sang about the babies of Tuam.

Alongside the small stage – about the size of a Eur-palette – stood a candleholder, the accumulation of wax on it reminiscent of a cave encrusterd with stalagmites. In between there was an altar of sorts, decorated with votives of both the Virgin Mary and an embroidered vulva. In appearance they resembled each other to a surprising degree. But I’m sure Mary would have approved. She, too, had a vulva. Nobody really knows how Jesus got in there in the first place, but he almost certainly came out the usual way.

Thank God – or Mary – that you can still find venues and fringe acts like this in the middle of Berlin. In a world in which gentrification is closing down small neighbourhood venues, city-centre Berlin still has corners and back streets where you can stumble on to places like the Wein Salon. Or be initiated into by a friend. Irish artists have leapt into this haven and forged their place in it. The atmosphere is something like Greenwich Village ca. 1961 (I imagine in my fantasies, sadly not having been there to experience it). No better way to conclude Berlin’s first International Women’s Day holiday.

ŸŸŸTo see my video about Berlin’s new International Women’s Day holiday, click here

Political earthquake in Bavaria

Candidates Katharina Schulze (l) and Ludwig Hartmann (r), joined by German Green party leader Robert Habeck, wave at a jubilant crowd at the final Green party rally. Photograph: Christine Madden

THE dust is far from settling over Sunday’s parliamentary election in Bavaria. The CSU, a behemoth of Bavarian – and a frequent irritation in Federal German – politics, lost the absolute majority they’ve more or less held for decades. They are now forced to enter into a coalition to build a new Bavarian government. Possible partners include the Green party – the big winners of this election, doubling their result from five years ago to achieve 17.5%. But a Bavarian populist party, the Free Voters (Freie Wähler), might be a better ideological fit. The SPD are also an option, but given the miserable effect of their grand coalition (Große Koalition, or GroKo) with the Federal German government, they’d probably rather keep their distance. And nobody wants to get into bed with far-right party AfD.

It’s all up for grabs as the CSU conduct exploratory talks with potential coalition partners. Interesting times.

My report on location in Munich: text and – for the first time – VIDEO.

Video: How the Green party is shaking up Bavarian elections in The Local

Bavaria: the word on the street in The Local

‘Guantanamo Bayern’

At the #noPAG demonstration on 10 May 2018. Photograph: Christine Madden

Bavaria’s new Polizeiaufgabengesetz (policing regulations act) has been called unconstitutional, the most Draconian since the Nazi era. On 10 May, tens of thousands of demonstrators thronged into Munich’s city centre to protest

Storms were forecast, but the sun still shone on Munich’s Marienplatz on Thursday, 10 May. At 12.30 pm, the square fills up – nothing particularly unusual for a holiday (Ascension Day, a bank holiday in Bavaria), when tourists routinely assemble to watch the Glockenspiel in the tower.

But more and more people crowded into the square, bearing signs, posters, banners, even clothing emblazoned with slogans. When the #noPAG demonstration – a protest organised against the new Polizeiaufgabengesetz, or Policing Regulations Act – was about to start, 15,000 people had already crushed in. “Wow! There’s a LOT of you!” announced one of the organisers over the Tannoy. The announcement was met with a roar of delight. There were too many people to make opening remarks, the voice gleefully continued. They would keep their speeches until after the march.

“Like old times,” says Munich resident Helga Kamy.

View the full article here

View of the crowd at the #noPAG demonstration on Marienplatz. Photograph: Christine Madden

One of the many signs carried at the #noPAG demonstration in Munich on 10 June. Photograph: Christine Madden



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