New director appointed for documenta art show after anti-Semitism row

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June 9, 2022, Kassel. Photo: Profimedia

An interim managing director for the documenta art show was appointed on Monday, following the resignation of the show’s general director Sabine Schormann in the wake of anti-Semitism scandal.

Alexander Farenholtz was unanimously chosen for the position, documenta announced. He will take over on Tuesday and his term is initially limited until September 30.

Farenholtz was involved in the production of documenta 9 in 1992 and was in charge of the management of the cultural programme of the world exhibition Expo 2000 in Hanover.

Schormann stepped down from the Kassel-based documenta on Saturday in the wake of a scandal at this year’s event.

The Indonesian collective Ruangrupa, which curated this year’s edition of the show, erected a large artwork which was deemed anti-Semitic shortly after the opening of the exhibition in June.

It was eventually taken down but critics say there were warning signs ahead of the exhibition and that Schormann’s attitude was at best apathetic.

It later came to light that there had been accusations of anti-Semitism made against Ruangrupa before the show began.

Also on Monday, the chairman of documenta’s supervisory board, Kassel mayor Christian Geselle, denied having ignored accusations of anti-Semitism at the exhibition.

He said all decisions from the board had been taken unanimously and jointly since the accusations began, but conceded that mistakes had been made.

Speaking at a city council meeting, he said the documenta scandal was a vehicle for a debate that is now necessary locally and nationally on how anti-Semitism, racism, and post-colonialism relate to art.

The documenta contemporary art show is held in the German city of Kassel every five years. This year’s event is its 15th edition.

It was founded by painter Arnold Bode in a bid to connect Germany with other countries and the international art scene after World War II.

The first edition of documenta in 1955 aimed to showcase styles of art that had been banned during Germany’s years under Nazi rule. Via Reuters

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