Major German Art Show Opens Amid Antisemitism Controversy

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A visitor walks during an exhibition of artist Agus Our Amal PMTOH from Indonesia during the press preview of the documenta 15, the world's most significant exhibition of contemporary art, in Kassel, Germany, Wednesday, June 15, 2022. This years documentary is curated by Indonesian artist collective Ruangrupa, every documenta is limited to 100 days of exhibition and takes place every 5 years. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

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Germany’s president has appealed to the organizers of this year’s documenta fifteen art show to do more to tackle the antisemitism allegations surrounding the event.

The show, which takes place every five years in the German city of Kassel and is considered a major event in the international art calendar, is curated this year by the Indonesian group Ruangrupa. The group was accused of inviting organizations from developing countries who support a boycott of Israel because of the country’s treatment of Palestinians.

Speaking Saturday at the show’s official opening, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said “there are limits” to what artists can do when they address political issues.

“As justified as some criticism of Israeli policies, such as the building of settlements, is, recognizing Israeli statehood means recognizing the dignity and security of the modern Jewish community,” he said.

“As Germany’s president I say for my country: Recognizing Israel is the basis and condition for debate here,” he added.

Steinmeier said he had hoped for a proper debate between representatives from developing countries and the Jewish communities in Germany and Israel ahead of the show.

He called on documenta organizers not to outsource their responsibility to the Indonesian curators, but instead to take on the role of mediators and “create appropriate structures” for debate.

Many of the show’s exhibits address issues of colonialism from the perspective of the global South.

About 1 million people are expected to visit the documenta fifteen, which runs for 100 days.

(AP)