19.1.2022

Statement on accusations of antisemitism against documenta fifteen

As an art and cultural organization of global scope, documenta and Museum Fridericianum gGmbH stands for artistic and academic freedom. It is an organization grounded on the German constitution and international legal conventions. Moreover, it takes the responsibility that arises from Germany’s particular history very seriously.

These premises form the basis of the mission of documenta and Museum Fridericianum gGmbH to open up spaces for art in which independent and contrary discourses are allowed to take place. Falsifying representations or racist defamations, such as those currently being made against participants of documenta fifteen, are destructive and hinder critical dialogue and productive debate.

For documenta fifteen, ruangrupa and the Artistic Team have invited positions which engage through artistic means on behalf of their respective local contexts, in the sense of the lumbung practice. Correspondingly, artists have not been invited by the criteria of whether they see themselves as apolitical or as having a political orientation. Precisely because it acknowledges the complexity of our present times, documenta fifteen does not align itself with any specific political movement but emphasizes the right of all people to stand up for their rights and counter discrimination. Not only the principles of freedom of expression but also a resolute rejection of antisemitism, racism, extremism, Islamophobia, and any form of violent fundamentalism are the underpinnings of our work. The rights of all people to a self-determined life in peace, dignity, and security is elementary to the team of documenta fifteen.

Decontextualization or the reduction of complexity contributes to a narrowing of the space for discourse by offering seemingly easy answers and simplistic dichotomies to the challenging questions of our present. Moreover, they do not do justice to the social possibilities inherent to art and culture: it is precisely this field that offers a free space for testing the tolerance for ambiguities – even speculatively, experimentally, or associatively – and for negotiating how we aspire to live together.

documenta fifteen, like its predecessors, explicitly rejects any external interference in this artistic freedom. In the spirit of an open and multi-voiced debate, documenta fifteen plans to invite international experts to the forum We need to talk! Art – Freedom – Limits (working title). Voices from various fields including colonialism, racism, and land rights research, Holocaust and antisemitism studies, Indigenous studies, law and the media as well as art and cultural work will enter into a debate to discuss the fundamental right of artistic freedom in the face of increasing racism, Islamophobia and antisemitism.

Further information about the digital event will be published soon on the website of documenta fifteen.

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