Art

German president calls on major art show to address antisemitism claims

BERLIN — Germany’s president has appealed to the organizers of this year’s documenta fifteen art show to do more to tackle the antisemitism claims surrounding the event.

The show, which takes place every five years in the German city of Kassel and is considered a major event in the international art calendar, is curated this year by the Indonesian group Ruangrupa.

The group was accused of inviting organizations from developing countries that support a boycott of Israel because of the country’s treatment of Palestinians.

Speaking Saturday at the show’s official opening, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said “there are limits” to what artists can do when they address political issues.

“As justified as some criticism of Israeli policies, such as the building of settlements, is, recognizing Israeli statehood means recognizing the dignity and security of the modern Jewish community,” he said.

“As Germany’s president I say for my country: Recognizing Israel is the basis and condition for debate here,” he added.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier addresses the media during a statement at Bellevue Palace in Berlin, Germany, February 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, File)

Steinmeier said he had hoped for a proper debate between representatives from developing countries and the Jewish communities in Germany and Israel ahead of the show.

He called on documenta organizers not to outsource their responsibility to the Indonesian curators, but instead to take on the role of mediators and “create appropriate structures” for debate.

Related: Are organizers of a major German art festival gaslighting critics about BDS support?

Many of the show’s exhibits address issues of colonialism from the perspective of the global South.

About 1 million people are expected to visit the documenta fifteen, which runs for 100 days.

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