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Documenta director Sabine Schormann resigns after antisemitic scandal

By: Phoebe Shi

In late June and early July, the art exhibition Documenta came under fire because of its inclusion of antisemitic imagery. The art piece “People’s Justice” was created by Taring Padi, an Indonesian art collective. Now, Documenta’s director general Sabine Schormann has stepped down and resigned, even though the 100 days of Documenta aren’t over yet.

Documenta is one of the most famous and renowned art exhibitions in Germany, but people have lost trust in it because of this scandal. In a statement publicizing Schormann’s resignation, Documenta’s board said they considered it essential that everything is done to regain that trust.

Documenta 15, this year’s exhibition, was curated by ruangrupa, which is an Indonesian art collective like Taring Padi. The curators were criticized for supporting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement by the Alliance Against Antisemitism Kassel. The Alliance Against Antisemitism Kassel is a group based in Kassel claiming to be “anti-Germans” who are supporting Israel, and are against German nationalism. The movement promotes boycotts, divestments, and economic sanctions against Israel. This happened before the “People’s Justice” controversy.

In an attempt to separate herself from the controversy, Schormann has said she was not responsible for the art that appears in Documenta. ruangrupa will be inspecting the exhibition for any more “critical works” with support from Meron Mendel, the director of the Anne Frank Education Center.

Schormann is not the only one to resign, as Mendel also stepped down from his role as a consultant, distancing himself from the entire controversy. Before Mendel was able to see Documenta’s artwork, Documenta’s management team stopped him.

This controversy has stopped the public from paying attention the art. Artist Hito Steyerl said “The art is not even secondary—no one talks about it right now.”

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