“Kulturlandschaften” TV series
For the TV channel 3sat, the successful Russian-born German author Vladimir Kaminer explores the question of how art evolves in the provinces, and how culture becomes your home. A short interview.
Mr Kaminer, this is the second time you have visited artists outside the big cities cities for the TV series “Kulturlandschaften” (Cultural Landscapes). What do German provinces have to offer?
Germany’s major cities - and incidentally in my opinion there are only one or two anyway – are characterised by pandemonium, by man-made chaos, in which you can hardly distinguish between the devil and the sinners. Like a witch’s kitchen, where everyone jumps around the same cauldron. The provinces show us the other side. Here people are part of a story that is much older than they are. Their life begins long before their birth and does not end with their death. Moreover, artists in the country are more pragmatic than in the big cities. They can hear the silence better.
The stops on the “Kulturlandschaften” tour vary enormously. What inspires the artists?
You have extremely strong regional differences in Germany, much more sharply defined than in Russia. The traditions, how people deal with strangers, the temperaments. I don’t know of any other country on the earth where the regions Allgäu and East Frisia could exist peacefully alongside each other. But perhaps I’ve simply travelled too little. At any rate: since I’ve become familiar with Germany’s North, I understand my own region Brandenburg better.
You have lived in Berlin since 1990, and are familiar with many different sides of Germany, for example, through your reading and lecture tours. What surprised you most on your new reconnaissance tour?
As an author I have always followed the same routes: from my train to my hotel, from the hotel to the club. I was invited to towns that wanted to see me, and once there I only met people who liked me. With “Kulturlandschaften” I have become acquainted with a Germany beyond my cultural route. I got talking to people who haven’t read my works, or indeed those by anybody else. They told me their stories, entrusted me with their thoughts and doubts. I feel richer for the experiences I have had, and have to say: not least of all thanks to “Kulturlandschaften” I have fallen in love with the country and the people here.
New episodes of “Kulturlandschaften” from 22 August, 2016 on 3sat