The storm surrounding allegations of anti-Semitism on Documenta 15 has not abated. Now the most famous artist to be seen at the five-year art festival in Kassel, German Hito Steyerl, has withdrawn his work. It’s something of a stroke, Steyerl is considered worldwide as an important artist who does not shy away from political themes, and who often measures big business in her work – a topic that connects her with many artists in this edition. In her opinion, the organization did not have a good response to the trouble, would avoid any debate and would not be open to mediation, she wrote in an email to the organization that sent the German daily newspaper. The time confronted.
Meanwhile, the Indonesian collective Taring Padi that the insulting work of art The Justice of the People apologized in an interview in The time† Five artists from the collective that made the meter-high work (which is now twenty years old) say that they have made a mistake with the two caricatures: between the two figures an Israeli soldier with a pig’s head and a man with a rat teeth, both of which are a symbol of Mossad worn by the SS. “For us, they were two of the many evils,” they say, recording democracies that supported the Suharto regime, thereby enabling the massacres under his rule. “We did not understand that these caricatures were anti-Semitic. Anti-Semitism is not a big problem in Indonesia, we hardly knew what it was. Being alerted and learning what anti-Semitism is is a learning process for us. We should have been more sensitive and cautious. “
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At the place where the great work of art hung, only an iron fence to which it was attached is now seen. While several apologies have already been made, politicians are pouring over each other to express their disgust: Christian Geselle, mayor of Kassel, believes his city is now “polluted”. Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced that he will not be visiting this Documenta while he has been doing so for the last thirty years. There was also a panel debate in Kassel last week where three professors and two art curators (both affiliated with Documenta) discussed the issue.
These are understandable reactions in a country where everything is measured in relation to anti-Semitism, and where a national … anti-Semitism baffler has been appointed to review all anti-Semitic statements from any angle. Documenta also rated anti-Semitism commissioner Felix Klein as “destructive.” All exhibited works are now being judged for anti-Semitic tendencies, with Taring Padi convinced that nothing further will be found. †Our theme is class, niece race”, They put in the interview The time† They also reject the accusation that they are making Islamic art. Not only are they victims of dictatorship in their own country, but in Yogyakarta they often have to deal with Islamist groups that destroy their works.
Meanwhile, German newspapers are full of the question. They not only present the ‘story of an escalation’ or provide a ‘reconstruction of a catastrophe’, but also call for (political) consequences. That Frankfurt General wondering if this Documenta can be saved and Süddeutsche Zeitung wonder if a ‘world fair’ still makes sense if it turns out that the worlds are so far apart.
To the last question, Taring Padi has entered The time even an answer: “This Documenta shows how important dialogue is. We are now learning what anti-Semitism is. Conversely, it is also good to be interested in our context. It should be a mutual exchange. ”