Over 140 people affiliated with Documenta 15, including organizers and exhibiting artists, have issued a statement condemning defamatory accusations of antisemitism that have been lodged against the show and its curators, the artist collective ruangrupa.
“We are united against the racist attacks that started this sequence of events,” reads the statement, published June 2. “And we stand firmly against all forms of discrimination, including racist, xenophobic, antisemitic, sexist, transphobic, anti-Muslim, anti-Palestinian, anti-Roma, ableist, casteist, classist, and ageist actions and attacks.”
In January, allegations of antisemitism against ruangrupa and exhibiting artists appeared on a fringe blog known as the Kassel Alliance Against Antisemitism, authored by one individual affiliated with the pro-Israel leftist Antideutsche movement. The charges of antisemitism amounted to criticism of participating artists and curators’ support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel and their vocal opposition to the Israeli state’s persecution of Palestinian people. But media outlets such as Die Zeit reported on the accusations of antisemitism, prompting Documenta 15 to announce a discussion forum on antisemitism and Islamophobia in the art world that was later canceled due to mounting controversy and pressure.
The recent statement expresses its agreement with an open letter that ruangrupa published in e-flux in early May decrying these “bad-faith attempts to delegitimize artists.” It comes on the heels of physical vandalism discovered in exhibition spaces over a week ago, including spray-painted instances of “187” and “Peralta,” possible references to California’s penal code for murder and Isabel Peralta, a Spanish far-right youth leader.
Among the signatories of the statement is the artist collective The Question of Funding, whose exhibition area was affected by the vandalism. Other artists participating in this year’s edition, including Yasmine Eid-Sabbagh, Chen Jianjun, Graziela Kunsch, Cao Minghao, and the collaborative design studio El Warcha, also signed their names.
Further racist activity “has crossed over from the digital space into our physical spaces,” the statement’s authors add. They also explicitly criticize the German media for its critical role in the “amplification” of “the original baseless blog post of disinformation and manipulated content.”