In an interview with the dpa news agency this week, German Culture Minister Claudia Roth defended the famous five-year Documenta, which is currently facing allegations of anti-Semitism by Jewish advocacy groups.
Documenta first came under scrutiny in January, when Kassel-based Alliance Against Antisemitism group accused the five-yearly of ‘involvement of anti-Israel activists’, referring to the Palestinian roots of two artists in the edition of this year, organized by the Indonesian collective ruangrupa. The allegations revolve around two artists who are part of the collective The Question of Funding, participating in Documenta 15, and the Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center, based in Ramallah, which is part of the artistic team of this edition.
Documenta has vehemently denied the allegations of anti-Semitism. In a statement last week to ART news, the five-year-old called the allegations against the artists “racist”. Earlier this year, Documenta said it would host a series of events dedicated to anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.
In a letter written this week to Roth, Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, accused Documenta of showing a “clear bias against anti-Semitism” in its plans to organize a series of discussions aimed at broaching the subject.
Roth sided with Documenta this week. In the dpa interview, Roth said anti-Semitism “has no place at Documenta.” But, she said, “artistic freedom is key.”
Responding specifically to Schuster’s criticism of a talk series event that focuses on “anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian racism,” Roth said, “It’s important to bring the different positions into the talks.” .
While she didn’t specifically mention the scrutiny of the nationality of some Documenta participants, she seemed to allude to it when she said that “artists’ backgrounds alone cannot determine what is shown and what is not”.