Another anti-Semitic motif was discovered at the Documenta in Kassel – once again on a triptych by the Indonesian artist group Taring Padi. The collective has been at the center of criticism since the beginning of the important arts festival in Kassel in mid-June because a clearly anti-Semitic drawing was found on its banner "People's justice". Anti-Semitism has been smoldering in Kassel for two months now, and new finds are constantly eroding the documenta's reputation.
The latest find in the East indoor pool shows the motif of a greedy Jew with a kippa, a long nose and a money bag. However, the artists and those responsible have already noticed the questionable motif, and the anti-Semitic content is known because parts of it were pasted over - apparently in order to hide the most obvious feature of the Nazi-like propaganda: an adhesive strip covers the kippah, which, however, is visible on older photos of the image can be clearly seen.
The detail was noticed by members of the German-Israeli Society (DIG) who are researching anti-Semitism at the documenta. Lasse Schauder, spokesman for the Kassel section of the DIG youth organization "Junges Forum", who reported the incident, said: "Obviously, one is also aware of one's own anti-Semitism, otherwise one would not, after all, cover the work quietly and secretly."
The national chairman of the "Young Forum" Constantin Ganß said: "It is incomprehensible that those responsible at the Documenta think that the problem is solved by masking a kippa". He demanded that the Taring Padi group be immediately excluded from the documenta.
On the triptych "People's justice", which was prominently displayed on Kassel's Friedrichsplatz before it was wrapped and finally dismantled, the collective had shown Jews as pig-like butchers and monsters.
In the weeks that followed, other questionable depictions by other artists and collectives surfaced, depicting soldiers of the Israeli armed forces as underhanded murderers, among other things - alongside the Jew as a monster or greedy profiteer, another traditional anti-Semitic motif that continued beyond the Nazi era into the time of classic Christian anti-Semitism and is also widespread in the Muslim world. In addition to these motifs, works of art can be seen at the Documenta that fall under Israel-related anti-Semitism, for example when the armed forces of the democratic state of Israel are not presented in a visually propaganda-distorted manner, but are placed on an equal footing with the armed forces of Nazi Germany. This is what the Gaza-Guernica picture cycle by Mohammed al Hawajri stands for.
The collective Ruangrupa, as artistic director, declared on Tuesday afternoon, in consultation with Taring Padi, that "no anti-Semitic imagery whatsoever can be found" in the recently problematic work. "We are currently compiling comprehensive information in order to make this clear to critics as well," the documenta announced. In addition, Ruangruapa wants to "explain" the "image material under discussion with the participation of the responsible group of artists". In this context, it should also be "reflected" on how "a change in the image contributions" - meaning the gluing over of a kippah - came about.
The interim boss of Documenta gGmbH Alexander Farenholtz has not yet commented on the process. He only started recently because his predecessor, Sabine Schormann, not only did not know how to prevent anti-Semitism at the exhibition, but also did not know how to stop it.