Accusations of anti-Semitism were voiced long before the opening of the world-famous exhibition of contemporary art in Kassel. And before the documenta could open, the scandal erupted with renewed vigor. Initially, the curators (Indonesian artists Ruangrupa) were criticized for inviting artists who supported the cultural boycott of Israel. Now, after the opening, which took place on June 18, we are talking about a specific work of art of anti-Semitic content.
documenta and accusations of anti-Semitism
The huge “People’s Justice” canvas of the Indonesian group of artists Taring Padi, located in the center of the exhibition, in front of the Documenta Exhibition Hall, was short of time for viewing. Due to sharp criticism, this exhibit was first hung, and now it is being removed altogether. “All the borders have crossed here,” is how the German media reacted to the canvas of Indonesian artists. What excited the public so much?
Even before the official opening, media representatives, for whom the documenta had opened a few days earlier, studied the exhibits. Of particular interest was the project of a group of artists The Question of Funding from Palestine with criticism of Israel. It was he who sparked the debate a few months before the documenta opened. While journalists were inspecting the upcoming exhibits, work was underway to complete the preparation of a huge canvas “People’s Justice”, which caused an even louder scandal.
On it – soldiers, a pig, the Star of David, a helmet with the inscription “Mossad” (the name of the Israeli special services), the inscription “KGB”, a man with a cigar in his teeth and the inscription “SS” on his hat … And these are just some elements.
Critics of the documenta have finally confirmed their fears. The Central Council of Jews in Germany sharply criticized what was happening in Kassel. After all, the management of the exhibition assured that there is no place for anti-Semitism on the art platform.
Where freedom of art ends
A group of artists from Indonesia, together with the curators and management of the exhibition, decided to hide the canvas from the public eye, hanging it, and promised to give an explanation. The director of the Anna Education Center, Frank Meron Mendel, demanded that the Indonesian group of artists remove the exhibit. “These images do not provide any opportunities for interpretation, this is a clear anti-Semitic harassment,” Mendel told the dpa news agency. At the same time, he urges not to accuse the entire exhibition of anti-Semitism.
German State Minister for Culture and Media Claudia Roth did not stay aside, seeing in the scandalous canvas clear signs of anti-Semitism: “I will repeat once again. Human dignity, protection from anti-Semitism, as well as from racism and any other form of aggression these are the foundations of our coexistence, and this is where the freedom of art ends. “
On Tuesday, the mayor of Kassel, Christian Geselle, said that the People’s Justice exhibit would be dismantled and leave the exhibition.
The Taring Padi artists’ group was founded in the 1990s in opposition to then-Indonesian President Suharto. Sharp caricatures on topical issues were the basis of their work. At the documenta exhibition, the works of the Indonesian art group are presented in the former pool building, more than 1,000 exhibits, many of which were prepared together with children in creative seminars, are scattered throughout the exhibition. The canvas, which was at the center of the exhibition and the main scandal, is not their new work. It was made more than 20 years ago.
At the opening of the exhibition, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier criticized its organizers and curators for the lack of works by Israeli artists. As it turned out, this was not the only reason for criticism.