Following the exit of two people from the committee charged with finding an artistic director for the upcoming edition of Documenta, the closely watched exhibition in Germany, the four remaining members have now followed suit, putting the future of the 2027 edition in doubt. Because the pressure is continuously increasing. ,
On Thursday, Documenta said those four members—Simon Najami, Gong Yan, Catherine Romberg and María Ines Rodríguez—had tendered their resignations after “an extremely difficult decision-making process” over the exhibition.
“Under the current circumstances we do not believe that there is any room in Germany for the open exchange of ideas and the development of complex and nuanced artistic approaches that documented artists and curators deserve,” the curators wrote in their letter. Published Thursday night by e-flux, “We do not believe that any acceptable situation can be created in the short term and consider it a disrespect to Documenta’s heritage to simply remain satisfied with the current situation.”
After his departure, Israeli artist and philosopher Bracha L. Ettinger and Indian poet and critic Ranjit Hoskote resigned on Friday and Sunday, respectively.
Ettinger attributed his decision to his inability to attend in-person meetings following the October 7 attack by Hamas and said he was motivated to leave the committee because of the “dark times” facing his country.
Hoskote was condemned by Documenta for signing the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions letter, which compared Zionism in India to Hindu nationalism. Documenta called the letter “anti-Semitic.” “It is clear to me that in this toxic environment, there is no room for nuanced discussion of the issues at stake,” Hoskote said in his resignation letter.
Many speculated about Documenta’s coming years last year, when the exhibition came under scrutiny because it included works that many believed reflected anti-Semitic stereotypes. Additionally, some Jewish groups said that the show featured Palestinian artists to the exclusion of Israeli artists. As the controversy escalated far beyond the borders of the German city of Kassel, where Documenta takes place once every five years, several German politicians, including Culture Minister Claudia Roth, threatened to withdraw support from Documenta.
Some predicted the end of Documenta’s reign. “I doubt that Documenta will receive the respect and prominence it enjoyed before this year, and that it will never achieve its goal of imagining the entire world in one show.” new York Times Critic Jason Farago wrote in his Review,
Hoskote, in itself Resignation LetterIt even appeared that Documenta had failed its mission, writing, “I am sad to say that such circumstances reflect Documenta’s historic openness to diverse positions and a supportive environment of imagination.” negates the ability to sustain life.”
The resignation letter of the remaining members pointed to these tensions, saying, “It is the emotional and intellectual climate of over-simplification of complex realities and the resulting restrictive limitations that has prevailed since Documenta 15 and especially against the backdrop of the current crises. Is against.” The challenges facing the world make it impossible for us to imagine a strong and indicative exhibition project, and consequently allow a responsible continuation of the selection process to determine a curatorial concept for the document16.
Now, with no members of the selection committee left, Documenta’s upcoming edition, its 16th edition, finds itself in a situation that virtually no other biennial-style show of its stature has ever faced.
In its statement Thursday, Documenta said it had considered stopping the process of selecting an artistic director altogether “due to the special world situation following the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel.” The show also said it has considered bringing in two new members to replace Hoskote and Ettinger and grow from there. But none of the plans were implemented as four other members resigned on Thursday night, Documenta wrote.
Speaking about the resignations, Documenta said in a statement that it “respects this decision and thanks everyone involved for their commitment.” The exhibition promised to completely redesign the selection committee, but did not provide any update on whether Documenta 16 would still take place in 2027 as planned.
Update, 11/16/23, 9:40 PM: This article has been updated to include quotes from the curator’s resignation letter.
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