Scholz won't visit documenta art show amid anti-Semitic art uproar


In Germany, documenta staff members remove a large-scale banner, a figurative representation of "People's Justice" by Taring Padi, a collective of underground artists from Indonesia, during the documenta fifteen contemporary art exhibition in Kassel on June 21. Photo: dpa

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will not visit the documenta exhibition this year amid allegations of anti-Semitism linked to the contemporary art show.

"Olaf Scholz is a big fan of the documenta and has probably not missed a documenta in the past 30 years. However, he has decided not to visit this year's edition," a government spokeswoman told dpa.

After the opening of the exhibition in the German city of Kassel, an artwork was taken down over allegations it contained anti-Semitic images.

People's Justice by Indonesian artists' collective Taring Padi, is a large-scale banner that features a soldier with a pig's face wearing a scarf with a Star of David and a helmet with the inscription "Mossad," the name of Israel's intelligence agency.

"Chancellor Olaf Scholz finds the illustration concerned abhorrent and considers it entirely right and proper to remove the banner," the spokeswoman continued.

"There is no place in Germany for anti-Semitic depictions, also not at an art exhibition," she added.

She said that the documenta management should take responsibility for this incident.

Amid the backlash, the artwork in question was initially covered up and later dismantled amid booing, whistling and clapping from spectators.

The exhibition's organisers faced accusations of anti-Semitism ahead of the show due to the inclusion of artists and groups that support a cultural boycott of Israel for its treatment of Palestinians.

The German-Israeli Association (DIG) has called on the general director of the documenta art show to resign.

"The general director of documenta, Sabine Schormann, must resign immediately or be dismissed by the supervisory board," DIG president Volker Beck told the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger newspaper on Thursday.

He said the members of the supervisory board, headed by Kassel's mayor Christian Geselle, should also resign.

"Following the accusations of anti-Semitism in the run-up to the event, the supervisory board should have taken action and ensured that anti-Semitism had no place at the documenta," Beck said.

Beck also mentioned the work Guernica Gaza by a group from the Gaza Strip and a "terrorist-affiliated, anti-Israeli film series" by the Subversive Films collective from Brussels and Ramallah.

The German government's anti-Semitism commissioner also criticized the organisers.

"The decision by curators not to invite any artists who are Jewish or from Israel to one of the world's most important art exhibitions was the start of a series of bad decisions which have loomed for weeks ahead of the situation that has now occurred and become increasingly severe," Felix Klein told dpa.

"It is urgent now - at the latest - to seek dialogue, including with the Central Council of Jews in Germany," he said.

This edition of documenta is being curated by the Indonesian art collective Ruangrupa.

Next to the Venice Biennale, documenta is considered one of the world's most important contemporary art exhibitions.

The 15th edition of the documenta, a three-month spectacle which puts the city of Kassel on the art world map every five years, runs until Sept 25. - dpa

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documenta , kassel , germany , art show , taring padi , indonesia , art


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