“Here we play for time”

Meron Mendel, head of the Anne Frank educational institution, has given up his commitment to documenta fifteen in Kassel as an external expert. “There’s a lot of good things at the documenta, but when I’m dealing with the current anti-Semitism scandal, I miss the serious will to work through the events and enter into an honest dialogue,” he said in an interview with the “Spiegel”. That’s why he informed the documenta management at the beginning of the week that he was no longer available as a consultant.

Six months before the exhibition for contemporary art began, allegations of anti-Semitism against the Indonesian curatorial collective Ruangrupa had been raised. Jewish artists from Israel were not even invited.

BANNER Shortly after the show opened in mid-June, a work with massively anti-Semitic imagery was discovered. The »People’s Justice« banner by the Indonesian art collective Taring Padi was then taken down. As a consequence, the organizers of the documenta had announced that they would check all other works for anti-Semitic content with the help of external experts, including Mendel.

The general director of the documenta, Sabine Schormann, accuses Meron Mendel of inactivity.

Mendel now explained that he thought it should be about examining the works of art and entering into a dialogue with Ruangrupa. “But after more than two weeks, neither one nor the other happened.” The idea of ​​establishing a top-class advisory board of anti-Semitism experts was also rejected. »I get the impression that we should play here until documenta fifteen is over.«

The general director of the documenta, Sabine Schormann, accuses Mendel of inactivity. »When she asked me, I got the impression that she understood the gravity of the crisis. She said she was taking responsibility for handling the anti-Semitism scandal with the necessary speed and determination. But this announcement was not followed by deeds,” Mendel explained.

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PODIUM The head of the Anne Frank educational institution had always campaigned for the show since the allegations of anti-Semitism against the documenta became known. Among other things, he took part in a podium discussion on the subject of »anti-Semitism in art«. According to the documenta, the event should be the start of a series to deal with the allegations.

“If I hadn’t tried myself, no representative from Ruangrupa would have been present at the discussion event that the Anne Frank educational center helped organize,” Mendel said now. The documenta management only took action when he wrote about his departure. dpa