German Art Show Removes Work After Anti-Semitism Accusations

An art show in Germany will remove a major artwork by a group of Indonesian artists following anti-Semitism allegations.

Documenta — one of the world’s leading shows of contemporary art — announced on June 21 that it will take down the sprawling banner “People’s Justice” by Taring Padi collective displayed in the city of Kassel, following criticisms that it contained anti-Semitic imagery.

“Anti-Semitic depictions must have no place in Germany, not even in an art show with a global scope. This also applies expressly with all understanding for the concerns of the global south and the visual language used there,” Schormann said.

One of the controversial images of the outdoor mural was a man with a hook nose, rat-like teeth, side-locks, and the insignia of the Nazi party’s paramilitary organization —the SS — on his hat.

The other controversial image was a soldier with a pig’s face wearing a scarf with a Star of David and a helmet containing the name of Israeli secret service, “Mossad.”

Kassel Mayor Christian Gesselle said that he was “angry, disappointed, and hurt.”

“I have always said — despite all the commitment to artistic freedom — that artistic freedom ends where red lines are crossed. This is the case right now,” Gesselle said at a press conference.

In a statement, Taring Padi said that the 2002 banner was part of a campaign against militarism and the “violence we witnessed during the 32-year Suharto military dictatorship in Indonesia and its legacy, which continues to have an impact today.”

“It is in no way related to anti-Semitism. We are sorry that details of this banner are misunderstood other than their original purpose. We apologize for the harm caused in this context,” Taring Padi said.


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