Documenta 16 Selection Committee Resigns En Masse

16Nov. 18, 2023

Documenta 16 Selection Committee …

Just days after Israeli artist Bracha Lichtenberg Ettinger and Indian poet Ranjit Hoskotéstepped downfrom the panel tasked with choosing Documenta 16’s artistic director, the remaining four members of the committee have announced theirdepartures, leaving the future of the event’s 2027 iteration in doubt. Simon Njami, Gong Yan, Kathrin Rhomberg, and María Inés Rodríguez in their resignationletterpointed to their “grave concern for the future of Documenta” as behind their exodus. “If art is to take account of the complex cultural, political, and social realities of our present day, it needs appropriate conditions that allow for its diverse perspectives, perceptions and discourses,” the quartet asserted.RelatedRADCLIFFE BAILEY (1968–2023)SFMOMA CUTS 20 JOBS AMID ATTENDANCE WOES “The dynamics of the last few days, with their unchallenged media and public discrediting of our colleague Ranjit Hoskote, which forced him to resign from the finding committee, make us very doubtful if this prerequisite for any coming edition of Documenta is currently given in Germany,” they noted. “Art requires a critical and multi-perspective examination of its diverse forms and contents to be able to resonate and develop its transformative capacity. Categorical, one-sided reductions and oversimplifications of complex contexts threaten to nip any such examination in the bud.” Ettinger quit on November 10, naming the “dark times” in Israel and the Israeli ground invasion of Gaza, which prevented her from attending at least one committee meeting, as among her reasons for doing so.

Hoskoté resigned November 13 after Documenta publicly denounced him for signing a 2019lettercomparing Zionism in Israel to Hindu nationalism in India and presented by the Indian division of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, which advocates for Palestinian rights and freedom. German culture minister Claudia Roth called the letter “clearly anti-Semitic and full of anti-Israel conspiracy theories” and threatened to pull funding from the Kassel quinquennial, as she did for Documenta 15. The 2022 edition of the event was curated by Indonesian collective ruangrupa, against whom numerous accusations ofanti-Semitismwere lodged. The discord ultimately led to thedepartureof the event’s managing director, Sabine Schormann. “In the current circumstances,” concluded Njami, Yan, Rhomberg, and Rodríguez, “we do not believe that there is a space in Germany for an open exchange of ideas and the development of complex and nuanced artistic approaches that Documenta artists and curators deserve.”.