23.06.2022, Hessen, Kassel: Letzte Reste vom umstrittenen und abgebauten Kunstwerk «People's Justice» vom Künstlerkollektiv Taring Padi stehen auf dem Friedrichsplatz vor dem Museum Fridericianum. Die Kunstausstellung geht bis zum 25.09.2022. Foto: Swen Pförtner/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

Is the Documenta dismantling itself? It looks like it: first the anti-Semitic depictions on a large poster on Friedrichsplatz, then the conspicuous absence of Jewish participants, which corresponds exactly to the strategy of the BDS, which, according to a resolution of the Bundestag, should not have a forum in the public cultural sector. And now the bickering about whether the documenta needs the federal government for the structural reforms that are obviously necessary – or not.

With the interjection by Lord Mayor Christian Geselle that Kassel could do without the idealistic and financial support from the Federal Cultural Foundation and organize its 3.5 million euros itself, the debate about the world exhibition has reached the local political level.

She didn’t deserve this. The topics being negotiated are far too important for that, as the scandal surrounding the Taring Padi poster proves.

Documenta fifteen was about giving the Global South a voice, about letting protagonists from other cultures have their say – even if this went horribly wrong due to the inattentiveness of the accompanying organisation, Documenta GmbH and its general director. It becomes all the more clear how far apart the discourses are when anti-Semitic imagery is socially acceptable in Indonesia.

It’s about more than the insult of a city politician who feels brought up by the Minister of State for Culture because she wants to cancel his pocket money like a rascal if he doesn’t do his homework.

Certainly, the federal share of the federal government is rather small in the 42.2 million budget, which is borne by the city and state with 10.75 million euros each, the remaining 17.2 million euros are brought in by entrance fees, third-party funds and other income .

And yes, the Documenta did not gain its reputation as the most important international exhibition of contemporary art as a federal event. But in a crisis like the Kassel art show is going through right now, insisting on home rights and not accepting any support seems provincial.

That went wrong when the Minister of State for Culture suggested an accompanying committee long before the opening with the first suspicion of anti-Semitism and was not heard. Documenta’s reputation has been damaged enough. She shouldn’t let herself be dragged down to the stage of political friction because of injured vanities.