BERLIN – The President of Germany called on the organizers of this year’s art show Document Fifteen to do more to deal with accusations of anti-Semitism around 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, was curated this year by the Indonesian band Ruangrupa.
The group has been accused of inviting organizations from developing countries that support the boycott of Israel because of the country’s attitude towards the Palestinians.
Speaking at the show’s official opening on Saturday, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said there were “limits” to what artists can do when it comes to political issues.
“As justified as some criticisms of Israeli policies are, such as the construction of settlements, the recognition of Israeli statehood means the recognition of the dignity and security of the modern Jewish community,” he said.
“As President of Germany, I say of my country: Recognition of Israel is the basis and condition for debate here,” he added.
Steinmeier said he hoped for a proper debate between representatives of developing countries and Jewish communities in Germany and Israel before the show.
He called on the organizers of the document not to assign responsibility to 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 15-day document, which lasts 100 days.