Exhibition – Kassel – Central Council: Not included in documents – Culture

Berlin / Kassel (dpa) – In a letter to the Minister of State for Culture, Claudia Roth, the President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, criticized the way the document dealt with the topic of anti-Semitism. “Only clear commitments and much more, decisive political action at every level of politics, art, culture and society help against anti-Semitism,” said the letter to the Green politician, which is available to the German Press Agency in Berlin. “No one can absolve themselves of this responsibility – not even in the name of artistic freedom.”

The background to this are allegations of anti-Semitism against documenta fifteen in Kassel earlier this year. An alliance had accused the curatorial collective Ruangrupa of involving organizations that supported the Israeli cultural boycott or were anti-Semitic in the exhibition. Ruangrupa and the documenta company denied the allegations. The documenta and Roth supervisory board also supported the creators of the most important presentation on contemporary art at the Venice Biennale.

As a result, an expert forum was announced to debate “the fundamental right to artistic freedom in the face of growing racism and anti-Semitism and growing Islamophobia.” The three-part series of digital events entitled “We need to talk! Art – Freedom – Solidarity” will take place from May 8. The document seeks to “create the framework for a debate with many perspectives beyond one-sided antagonisms,” CEO Sabine Schormann said in the announcement. In this context, “contradictions must be endured and discussed productively.”

Central Council President Schuster criticized, among other things, the occupation of the forums. “For me, the orientation of the podiums has a clear prejudice against anti-Semitism,” the letter to Roth said. The aim should be to address anti-Semitism in general and anti-Semitism associated with Israel. “In this context, I was also surprised that the topic of anti-Palestinian racism found its way into the program,” Schuster writes. He could see no connection here.

The Central Council does not see itself sufficiently taken into account. “We have asked several times to be involved here as an umbrella organization of the Jewish community in Germany with our expertise. Despite constant requests to the document management, this did not happen. Criticism is also directed at Roth. “Unfortunately, even from your house we were not informed of further progress.”

“We could have raised all these objections if the people in charge were interested in a real exchange and to include the perspective of the Jewish community,” Schuster explains his criticism. However, this has not been the case, so I am addressing you today with these clear words.

He also stressed that “there can be no ‘open’ debate on anti-Semitism for Jews in Germany”. It is also not worth, as warned in the forum program, to endure contradictions.

According to a Roth spokesman, the Minister of State for Culture knows that “the Central Council of Jews and all Jews are united in the fight against anti-Semitism.” That is why the accusations against documenta were taken seriously from the beginning and discussions were sought with both those responsible for documenta and the Central Council of Jews. Roth is still “in talks and in close contact with Mr Schuster personally, as well as with the Central Council of Jews and documents.”

“The protection of this freedom of art is the duty of all state agencies”, it is said in the statement for DPA. “This includes accepting positions with which you personally do not agree.” You will need to get an idea of ​​this when the documents program is recognized. “This makes the talks and direct dialogue between the Central Council and documenta more necessary, as well as the international discussion that documenta will now lead.”

From the documenta’s point of view, there is no room for anti-Semitism. The series of events is “a series of critical and multi-perspective talks, which has been created by an in-depth study and also by the great concern for the rise of anti-Semitism and racism in our society,” a statement to DA said. “Repeated problems for international cultural and scientific institutions active in addressing controversial international definitions of anti-Semitism” and “the origins of generalizing and sometimes racist attacks on the artistic team of documenta fifteen” are also discussed.

The guests were invited “not because they belong to an official institution, but exclusively on the basis of their scientific expertise”. Discovering the differences and overlaps between anti-Semitism and racism is a theme of the series of events. “It also addresses the question of whether postcolonial theory misjudges the specificity of anti-Semitism,” he said.

“As with documenta fifteen, there is no room for anti-Semitism. There is also no stage for generalized statements about people of Muslim or other descent, such as those made in attacks on documenta fifteen.” Beyond the series of talks, the document will also take on various aspects of the topic complex.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 220428-99-85100 / 2

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