Minister of State for Culture Laudia Roth (Greens) reacted with surprise and visibly annoyed to the statement by Documenta Director-General Sabine Schormann on dealing with the anti-Semitism scandal and questioned her willingness to take the consequences. Schormann’s statements about the processes in the past few months are “not applicable”.
Above all, it is about the advisory panel of experts proposed by Roth’s authority in January, “with the following experts: Manuela Consonni, Raphael Gross, Edna Harel-Fisher, Meron Mendel”. According to the Greens politician, the proposal was not pursued further by the Documenta. Instead, the management would have prepared the “later canceled series of talks, which corresponded to the proposal neither in terms of content nor personnel”.
A spokesman for Roth said there was still no complete explanation as to how a clearly anti-Semitic work of art could have been exhibited at the Documenta, and the consequences of this scandal were not yet drawn.
It is “increasingly questionable whether the Director General can or wants to do this”. A clear indication that Roth also no longer considers Schormann to be sustainable. Their resignation has already been called for several times, including by the Central Council of Jews and the CDU MP Gitte Connemann.
In a statement published on the Documenta website on Tuesday, Schormann had rejected the accusation that the investigation had not been carried out properly, referring to a five-person team of consultants who became active in January after initial allegations that the curator collective Ruangrupa was close to the Israel boycott movement BDS. This also included the curator Anselm Franke.
When asked by the Tagesspiegel, Franke said that Schormann’s statement gave the impression that the group had performed a function that was comparable to that of the committee proposed by Roth. “However, that does not correspond to the facts.” They were offered neither a public role nor responsibility in the assessment of artistic works. They would have advised on media issues and tried to build bridges between the actors. They were also involved in the conception of the then canceled series of talks “We Need to Talk”.
The publicist Ofer Waldman, who is part of the consulting team, also corrects Schormann, but not as seriously as Franke. He writes on Facebook that – before the opening of the Weltkunstschau – he was primarily asked to “seek contact with representatives of Jewish organizations, including at the local level, in order to involve them in discussions about the serious allegations of anti-Semitism against Documenta15”.
Waldman considers himself fortunate to have had an extremely productive exchange with the Jewish community in Kassel in this way. However, he was not informed in advance that his name was now becoming public in this context, “which is certainly not the only surprising step in this direction”.
Apparently, Schormann had published the statement without consulting those named there – who in turn are subject to confidentiality.
Hesse’s Minister of Art, Angela Dorn, is also calling for a quick improvement in overcoming the crisis. At a debate in the Hessian state parliament in Wiesbaden, she said that she considered a panel of experts to be urgently needed. We need a structure that can give us recommendations for the ongoing Documenta, but also for the future.”