Documenta, an international exhibition of contemporary art in Kassel, has new exhibits that are perceived as anti-Semitic. We are talking about drawings, which are partly visible anti-Jewish stereotypes in the image of Israeli soldiers, according to Thursday, July 28, the newspaper Die Welt. According to the publication, the German-Jewish association Werteinitiative drew attention to these drawings.
In response to a request from Die Welt, documenta’s management stated that the works that attracted attention were thoroughly reviewed. “In the process of checking them, a clear reference to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was found, but the Jews as such are not depicted on them,” an official representative of the exhibition said. According to her, “contextualization of the exposition” is now planned. However, it is not planned to carry out a comprehensive check of the exhibited works for anti-Semitic motives, the speaker explained.
Harsh criticism of the exhibition management
The representative of the parliamentary faction of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) for cultural policy Helge Lind (Helge Lindh) criticized the controversial drawings. They “clearly resemble typical Nazi cartoons,” she told Die Welt. Lind demands that German and foreign experts carry out a full check and examination of all works of art exhibited at documenta for antisemitic motives.
Documenta’s leadership “does not take anti-Semitism seriously, perhaps even tolerates it,” says Marlene Schönberger, who is in charge of fighting anti-Semitism in the Soyuz-90/Greens parliamentary faction.
Criticism was also voiced by the conservative bloc in the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Christian Social Union (CSU). “Attempts to hide inhuman anti-Semitism under the label of artistic freedom are unacceptable,” said Dorothee Bär, deputy chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary faction. “It is extremely important that a check be carried out,” she stressed.
Elio Adler of the Werteinitiative Association called it “a slap in the face” that documenta’s leaders have no plans to examine the exhibits. According to him, this is in line with how documenta treats anti-Semitism. “They are clearly aware of its existence – and they treat it with tolerance,” Adler said.
Not the first scandal over accusations of anti-Semitism
In mid-July, there was already a scandal at documenta, connected with the fact that the curators of the current exhibition, the Indonesian collective Ruangrupa, invited artists who support the cultural boycott of Israel to participate in the exhibition. After accusations of anti-Semitism were brought against the organizers of documenta in this regard, the general director of the art exhibition in Kassel Sabine Schormann was forced to resign.