A Jew with an SS insignia on his cap, the equation of the Israeli army with the Nazi Wehrmacht, a Jew portrayed as a pig – riots at the Documenta Fifteen. How could that happen? The answer to the question determines three careers: that of Managing Director Sabine Schormann, Minister of State Claudia Roth from the federal government and Hesse’s Minister of Culture Angela Dorn.
The attempt to involve the Global South via a curatorial collective from Indonesia, which is predominantly Muslim, is overshadowed by problems. And shouldn’t that have been foreseeable? A documenta does not come about overnight, but over years. It is inconceivable that nothing of what is happening there is accompanied by the management, the management. Because you can’t let that go; otherwise it is not liberalism but naivety.
The manager knows that for sure. Schormann knows his stuff, has curated for the Goethe Museum in Frankfurt, and was involved in a major cultural event at Expo 2000. Handing over the documenta to the Ruangrupa group, so to speak, was a mistake, whether well-intentioned or, worse, deliberate. Namely, if there had been an inkling that there would be a provocation.
It is close to a scandal to want to blame Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, with reference to cultural freedom, for saying what is going on: “Responsibility cannot be outsourced.” That’s how it is, but that’s how it looks.
When selecting the artists, it was apparently not important whether they were anti-Semitic. You could have known about the performances, yes, you should have. The interest in the course of the documenta committed to conveying contemporary art dictates that. There shouldn’t be any surprises. Especially since the alliance against anti-Semitism in Kassel has been addressing the proximity of the Documenta to the BDS campaign since the beginning of the year, but has been criticized for months as right-wing and racist.
The Central Council of Jews had the guarantee “that there would be no anti-Semitism in the exhibition”. Far from it. Against this background, solidarity with those responsible for Documenta becomes impossible. And if Schormann in particular is to be blamed? Hear nothing, see nothing, say nothing – all of this also applies to Roth and Dorn, and that shouldn’t have happened to any of them.