Indonesian curators at documenta reject latest anti-Semitism charges


Accusations of anti-Semitism have dogged the 15th edition of documenta in Kassel, Germany for months, with a banner from Indonesia art collective Taring Padi showing anti-Semitic stereotypes removed just days after the exhibition opened in June. Photo: dpa

The Indonesian curatorial collective Ruangrupa has rejected the latest accusations of anti-Semitism that have plagued the sprawling German art show since it opened in June.

"The images in the Presence des Femmes brochure are clearly not anti-Semitic," Ruangrupa and the artistic team said in a statement on Wednesday that rejected earlier accusations as a "misinterpretation."

They were referring to criticism of a brochure published in Algiers in 1988 which is currently part of a display about the struggle of women in Algeria.

The drawings show anti-Semitic stereotypes and refute the legitimacy of the nation of Israel, according to the Anti-Semitism Research and Information organisation RIAS Hessen, pointing to drawings by Syrian artist Burhan Karkoutly.

"All cartoons have a certain history," Ruangrupa said in the statement, noting the imagery of soldiers with a Star of David on their helmets shown as robots with bared teeth represented the propaganda of the time and the viewpoint of Palestinians towards the military occupation.

"None of the paintings depict people of Jewish faith in an abstract way," the curators said, saying they were depictions of Israeli soldiers that clearly referenced the Israeli flag.

"The Star of David on soldiers' helmets is the symbol of the Israeli state and army, there is no ambiguity here."

Accusations of anti-Semitism have dogged the 15th edition of documenta for months, with a banner showing anti-Semitic stereotypes removed just days after the exhibition opened.

Documenta opened on June 18 and is set to run through mid-September.

Ruangrupa was chosen by organisers to curate this edition of the show, which is staged every four years in the central German city of Kassel and is considered a major event on the art world's calendar. - dpa

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