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Head of Documenta Resigns Amid Antisemitism Scandal

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After a month of crisis that shook the art world, Sabine Schormann, director of the famous contemporary art exhibition Documenta, resigned on Saturday, just 28 days after the 100-day exhibition.

The crisis began after artwork containing anti-Semitic images was installed and covered, and then removed from the exhibition held every five years in Kassel, Germany. The hanging of the artwork, a huge piece of work including Jewish caricatures, led to a loss of confidence in the event, Documenta’s board said in a statement Announced the departure of Mr. Scholman.

The board added, “We believe it is essential that everything be done to regain that credibility.” The board will convene a group of arts, anti-Semitic and postcolonialist experts to determine what went wrong and whether the show has more anti-Semitic images, the statement said. rice field.

Documenta is widely regarded as one of the most important events in the art world, comparable only to the Venice Biennale.

This year’s 15th Documenta is curated by Indonesian art group Luanglepa and is attended by more than 1,000 artists, primarily from the Global North and Global South, who host exhibitions and events. One group has created a kink-friendly nightclub for visitors. Another person built a sauna. Many of the exhibition venues are intended not only to see art, but also to allow visitors to attend events and discuss social and political issues.

Siddhartha Mitter, who reviews the New York Times documenta, said: Strategies outside the limits of the state and capitalist system. Feed for the imagination of the citizens. “

Despite such praise, Documenta was involved in the controversy even before it opened. In January, a protest group called the Alliance against Anti-Semitism accused Luanglepa and other artists of supporting a boycott, withdrawal of investment and sanctions against Israel. In 2019, the German Parliament declared the movement anti-Semitic, saying it questioned Israel’s right to exist.

The accusation was first posted on the blog, but was picked up by German newspapers and politicians. Anger raged in June when another Indonesian art group, Talympdi, set up a work of art called “People’s Justice” in one of Kassel’s main squares.

Originally created in 2002, about 60 feet long, “People’s Justice” is a political banner featuring a cartoon-like portrayal of activists struggling under the Indonesian military junta. Among many are those who look like Jewish caricatures with side locks and fangs, wearing hats adorned with the Nazi “SS” emblem.

The banner also includes a pig-headed soldier with the word “Mossad,” the name of the Israeli security forces, on his helmet, wearing the Star of David Neckerchief. (The number is displayed with soldiers identified as members of other intelligence units, including the KGB)

Claudia Roth, Minister of Culture of Germany, statement At that time, “in my view, this is an image of anti-Semitism,” the banner was criticized by a prominent Jewish group and the Israeli embassy in Germany. The artwork was first covered and then removed, and both Taring Padi and ruangrupa apologized, but it did not end the dispute.

A few days later, Ross said the festival needed to explain how “apparently anti-Semitic paintings” were hung, and that Documenta was “fundamental” in order to receive future funding from the German government. Structural reform is necessary, he added.

That same day, Schormann tried to keep himself away from the dispute by saying: news release She “did not take responsibility” for the artistic content of Documenta. The exhibition will be “inspected for more important works,” the statement added. Her mission will be led by Luanglepa with the support of Melon Mendel, director of the Anne Frank Education Center in Frankfurt, she said.

These moves did not put an end to the crisis, especially after Mr Mendel resigned from his role. Mendel said in a telephone interview last week that Documenta’s management prevented him from starting his mission before Mr. Scholman resigned.

“I wasn’t even sent half the artwork to see,” he said. Documenta initially refused to contact him, so he had to contact the artist himself to talk about their work, he added.

At least one documenta artist has publicly acknowledged the loss of confidence in the event. On July 8, Hitstayar, one of the exhibition’s most prominent artists, said in an email to her documenta that she was “not confident” in her ability to deal with the lines of her organization. , Pulled out her work. In a telephone interview before Scholman resigned, Stayal said her anger hampered people’s attention to art.

“Art is not secondary. No one is talking about it so far,” Stajar said.

“A lot of people have spent a lot of time on this,” she added.

Documenta said in a statement on Saturday that it would appoint an interim secretary to replace Mr. Scholman, but no schedule was given for that.

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