After a statement by Documenta Director General Sabine Schormann on how to deal with allegations of anti-Semitism, Minister of State for Culture Claudia Roth (Greens) clearly distanced herself from the director of the art exhibition. “These statements and Ms. Schormann’s descriptions of the processes in the past few months are not accurate,” said a spokesman for Roth on Thursday in Berlin. Roth was “very surprised and alienated”.
A complete clarification as to how a clearly anti-Semitic work of art could have been installed at this documenta is still pending, “as well as drawing the necessary conclusions from it,” explained Roth’s spokesman further: “It is increasingly questionable whether the documenta general director able or willing to afford.”
Above all, Roth rejected Schormann’s description of the convening of an external committee with experts to accompany the Documenta. Such a proposal with specific names had been made by the Minister of State for Culture, explained Roth’s spokesman. This was not followed up by the Documenta. Instead, the Documenta prepared a series of talks that were later canceled and “which corresponded neither to the content nor to the personnel” proposed by the Minister of State for Culture.
In a statement distributed on Tuesday evening, Schormann had defended himself against the ongoing criticism of the art exhibition’s handling of the allegations of anti-Semitism. In it she writes that in January, when the first allegations were made, the artistic management and the now 1,500 artists rejected an external expert committee for review because they felt they were under general suspicion and feared censorship. According to Schormann, however, after talks with Roth, among others, there was a five-person advisory committee, but apparently with other participants than Roth had proposed.
In her statement, Schormann describes the idea of the series of talks as a result of a recommendation by Roth, among others, to “go into further dialogue”. Schormann explained that the Federal Commissioner for Culture and Media and the Hessian Ministry for Science and Art had received information on the podiums.
In the meantime, the managing director of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Daniel Botmann, is also demanding the resignation of Schormann and the mayor of Kassel, Christian Geselle (SPD), who is the chairman of the supervisory board of Documenta gGmbH. Schormann and Geselle were “responsible for the scandal” and are now “actively in the way of a reappraisal,” Botmann told the “Jewish General”. Schormann and Geselle are “unacceptable”, said Botmann. “After their resignation from their Documenta offices, there would at least be a chance that the scandals would be dealt with.”
In addition, it must be ensured that the Israel boycott movement BDS has “no platform whatsoever” at this and other cultural events funded by the federal government, Botmann demanded. “Because wherever BDS advocates are involved, anti-Jewish or anti-Israel scandals must be expected.”
BDS represents an anti-Semitic ideology. Appropriate warnings from the Central Council before the world art exhibition had been “appeased, ironed out and partly dismissed as racist”. The “Welt” recently reported that at least 84 participants in the Documenta “signed calls for a boycott of Israel”.