Following the opening of Documenta 15 last week, organizers of this year’s edition of the popular and frequent art fair in Kassel, Germany, covered works of art that many described as anti-Semitic.
The artwork was the work of the Indonesian group Taring Padi and, unlike many of this year’s Documenta pieces, it was not a new work. entitled justice of the people (2002), premiered the year it was performed at the South Australian Arts Festival in Adelaide.
An extensive track reflecting on the violence of Indonesia’s Suharto dictatorship, the piece includes photos of soldiers designated as members of Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence agency. Some have pig heads for faces, and behind them you can see what a German art magazine has to say. Monopoly He is identified as “a cartoon of a Jew with side guides, cigars and SS symbols on his hat”.
Other works by Taring Padi have tried to link war and violence in other countries to what happened in Indonesia. in an interview with art and market Earlier this year, the group said it used its publications to increase “solidarity with Palestine and Myanmar,” among other issues.
“It is not intended to be associated in any way with anti-Semitism,” the group said about the Documenta flag in a statement on Monday. “We are saddened that the details of this signal are understood differently from its original purpose. We apologize for the damage that has occurred in this context.”
The collective statement continued: “Therefore, with great regret, we have covered the work. So this work becomes a monument to the impossibility of dialogue at this moment. We hope that this monument will be the starting point for a new dialogue”.
Documenta 15 has been the subject of fierce debate over whether or not it is anti-Semitic on the part of its curators, the Indonesian group Ruangrupa, to include a Palestinian group called Funding Question in the exhibition. Ironically, however, Taring Padi was never a part of this controversy.
The fund-sharing issue prompted some Jewish groups in Germany to denounce Documenta 15. The controversy at one point became so tense that Documenta canceled a planned series of talks focusing on anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and related issues. Shortly before the opening, the issue of exhibition space for funding was marred by messages that Ruangrupa described as a “death threat”.
Both Ruangrupa and Documenta denied the allegations of anti-Semitism, which included allegations that members of the Financing Question supported the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, a pro-Palestinian movement that has been controversial in Germany.
While there is little factual basis for these claims, they were picked up by some prominent German newspapers, and politicians threw their hats into the debate, with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier saying at the exhibition’s opening that “there are limits” to artistic freedom.
Steinmeier said at the opening: “While some criticisms of Israeli policies, such as settlement building, recognize the Israeli state means recognizing the dignity and security of the modern Jewish community.”
Even those who stood up for Documenta and Ruangrupa in defense amid allegations over the funding issue denounced Taring Padi’s work.
Monopoly Editor-in-Chief Elke Bohr, one of the few German journalists who took a strong pro-Document stance when allegations of anti-Semitism emerged, published a short article on Monday titled “Boundary is crossed here.” “therefore [work]She wrote Documenta Fifteen undermining her position.
Claudia Roth, Germany’s Minister of Culture, carefully defended “artistic freedom” during the initial debate on anti-Semitism. But she didn’t mince words when, in a statement on Twitter on Monday that did not name Tring Buddy, she called for the removal of “anti-Semitic images” from Documenta, writing, “I’ll say it again: human dignity and protection from anti-Semitism.” , racism and human hatred are the bases of our coexistence and here you will find artistic freedom has its limits.
The Israeli Embassy in Germany echoed Roth’s pleas and went a step further, Describing Taring Padi’s work as “Goebbels-style propaganda”, A reference to Joseph Goebbels, responsible for many of the racist and anti-Semitic messages spread by the Nazi Party during World War II.
In a statement, Sabine Schuermann, general manager of Documenta and Frediricianum, tried to distance the show from Taring Padi’s work.
“The Documentation Department is not and should not be an authority to which art exhibitions must be submitted for prior inspection,” Schurmann said, adding that the work was not created for Documenta 15.
“All interested parties regret that feelings were hurt in this way,” he concluded.