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Documenta inauguration: the German president talks about the limits of art

Documenta inauguration: the German president talks about the limits of art

The Indonesian exhibition curator Ruangrupa has been accused of involving organizations that support the cultural boycott of Israel or are anti-Semitic.

German Federal President Frank Walter Steinmeier Documenta Fifteen opened in Kassel on Saturday. 14 groups, organizations and institutions as well as 54 artists are now presenting their works and performances in North Hesse for a period of 100 days. The world’s most important exhibition of contemporary art takes place next to the Venice Biennale only every five years.

According to Steinmeier, artistic freedom is an important pillar of democratic societies, but it also has its limits. “Art can be offensive, and it must generate controversy,” Steinmeier said Saturday at the opening of the documentary art exhibition in Kassel, according to the text of the previously published letter. Criticism of Israeli policy is permitted. “But where criticism of Israel turns into questioning its existence, the limit is crossed.”

Looking at the controversy over anti-Semitism in the lead-up to contemporary art, he said, he noted “some reckless and negligent dealings with the State of Israel.” Nevertheless, recognition of Israel is the basis and prerequisite for every debate in Germany. The Indonesian exhibition curator Ruangrupa has been accused of including organizations in the “Fifteen Document” that supported the cultural boycott of Israel or were anti-Semitic.

Secretary of State for Culture Claudia Roth (the Greens), and Prime Minister of Hesse Boris Rhein (CDU) The opening was attended by the Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia, Arif Havas Uigrosino. In the most beautiful summer weather, hundreds of visitors and spectators gathered in front of the Fredericianum in the center of Kassel. After being hailed on the red carpet, Steinmeier disappeared into the Fredericianum, accompanied by Adi Darmawan of Ruangrupa’s group curator and general manager Sabine Schuurmann.

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The Documenta site has been in Kassel since 1955. This year the exhibition is distributed to about 32 sites in the city. This year’s document represents the Global South. The focus is not on work, but on art as a collective process.

The concept of the Ruangrupa group is based on the Indonesian architecture of Lumbung. In the island nation, “lombong” is a word for a communal rice barn in which the surplus of the crop is stored for the benefit of the community. The artistic direction wants to transfer this tradition of sharing to the World Art Fair in Kassel. The Documenta show in Kassel runs until September 25. A day ticket costs 27 euros.