Documenta: Were Jewish artists not invited because they are Jews?

ruruHaus, Kassel, 2021, Foto: Nicolas Wefers/Documenta

Three articles published today could seal the end of Documenta 15.

The FAZ reports: „According to internal information available to the F.A.Z., Ms. Schormann of all people is said to have been against the appointment of Ruangrupa and the idea of collectives inviting collectives, but had no voting rights. Originally, a Jewish collective from São Paulo was also contacted by Ruangrupa, but was then disinvited after protests by participants close to Palestine. No statement could be obtained from Documenta
Documenta had not been able to comment on this by the time of going to press. The Ruhbarone also asked Documenta for a statement. Our enquiry was also not answered. If the FAZ’s account is correct, Jewish artists would not have been invited because they are Jews. It would be an example of how the BDS campaign plays out in everyday life.

Meron Mendel, the director of the Frankfurt educational institution Anne Frank, has ended his work for Documenta. He advised Documenta after the scandal about anti-Semitic artworks. Mendel told Der Spiegel that there had been no communication with Documenta’s general director Sabine Schormann: „Phone calls went unanswered, and my request to talk to the curators about Ruangrupa was also put on the back burner with excuses.“ If he hadn’t bothered, „there probably wouldn’t have been a Ruangrupa representative at the discussion event that the Anne Frank Education Centre helped organise.“ Only when he considered leaving in writing did the Documenta management take action. Mendel’s conclusion: „I miss the serious will to come to terms with what happened.“

The Hessisch Niedersächsische Allgemeine (HNA) writes that the Party Office collective is ending its live programme at documenta. In recent weeks there have been repeated racist and transphobic attacks by documenta visitors, security staff and people from Kassel. According to the HNA report, the documenta management was criticised by the collective for „not protecting the group members and not taking their fears seriously.“ Joey Cannizzaro of the Party Office collective says, „We are in danger in Kassel.“ Northern Hesse has always had a Nazi problem. CDU politician Walter Lübcke was murdered here by a right-wing radical, Halit Yozgat was shot by the NSU and the grave of neo-Nazi leader Michael Kühnen, who died of AIDS, is also in Kassel. The city’s right-wing scene is active. Only recently there were swastika smearings.

If one takes the incidents that became known today and adds the scandals about anti-Semitic pictures and films, there can only be one consequence: The immediate termination of Documenta, the ejection of Ruangrupa as the responsible curatorial collective and the dismissal of Sabine Schormann.

And sometime in the autumn, the federal government, the state of Hesse and the city of Kassel should sit down and think about whether Documenta still has a future or whether its time is over.


Artist Hito Steyerl is leaving Documenta:
„I have no confidence in the organisation’s ability to communicate and translate complexity. This refers to the repeated refusal to allow a sustainable and structurally anchored inclusive debate around the exhibition, as well as the factual refusal to accept mediation.“

Translated with (free version)

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