The Documenta in Kassel has been in the headlines for weeks – because of anti-Semitic art. Not only the head of the exhibition, but also Minister of State for Culture Claudia Roth looked the other way. Still, nobody wants to be responsible. The damage done must have consequences.
The word scandal is often used in an inflationary way. In the case of “Documenta fifteen” in Kassel, it is undoubtedly appropriate. If it’s not a scandal that clearly anti-Semitic motifs are shown at an art exhibition financed with taxpayers’ money, then what is?
And the whole thing is a shame. The large-format banner of an Indonesian artists’ collective primarily caused outrage and horror.
Because it contains many elements that the Nazis used to fuel hatred of Jewish fellow citizens: a “Jewish hat” with SS runes, sidelocks, bloodshot eyes, a crooked nose, a soldier with a pig’s face and a Star of David. Already in January, long before the opening of the show, there had been indications of exhibits with anti-Semitic tendencies.
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But Documenta boss Sabine Schormann looked the other way – as did the Minister of State for Culture in the Chancellery, Claudia Roth. Ironically, the Green politician, who has made dismay her trademark, was extremely insensitive here.
The Hessian state government and the city of Kassel, joint sponsors of the documenta, also let things slide. So the scandal was programmed. Roth expressed his outrage when it could no longer be denied that the director of the documenta and her sponsors had failed. So the big banner in downtown Kassel was finally taken down.
And the Indonesian artists, as was to be expected, called for censorship and saw themselves defamed. Since then, the “Documenta fifteen” is no longer a show like its predecessors. It mutated into a “Documenta scandalous”, a scandal show.
The Documenta boss, who sticks to her post with unique stubbornness, has now identified the main person responsible: Claudia Roth. She recommended that she have the anti-Semitism allegations checked by the publicist Emily Dische-Becker.
Dische-Becker, on the other hand, is known for her sympathies with the anti-Semitic and anti-Israel boycott movement BDS. She also gave a chance to speak to known haters of Israel at an event she organized.
What Schormann says means in plain language: The responsibility that the repulsive work could be set up at all lies with the Minister of State. This was immediately denied. So it’s word for word. In other words: one of the ladies is lying.
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This scandal within a scandal contains explosive political explosives. It is obvious that Schorrmann cannot be retained as Documenta director. If her claims are true, Roth would have to go as well. A Minister of State who had such a controversial “expert” as Dische-Becker check allegations of anti-Semitism would have criminally neglected her duties as Minister of State for Culture.
This documenta really should be canceled; the accusations rightly leveled against its makers weigh too heavily. In any case, it must be carefully examined who has said what and what has been done in connection with the allegations of anti-Semitism in recent months.
The damage done – both internally and externally – is far too great to delay any further investigation. The Documenta needs a new beginning. It is quite possible that we will also need a new Minister of State for Culture.