Top German art show director to quit in anti-Semitism row: Organizers

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The director general of Documenta, one of the world’s biggest art fairs which opened last month in Germany, will resign following outrage over anti-Semitic exhibits, the event’s organizers announced Saturday.

Documenta, which every five years turns the sleepy German city of Kassel into the center of the art world, features more than 1,500 participants and for the first time since its launch in 1955, had been curated by a collective, Indonesia’s Ruangrupa.

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But its supervisory board expressed “its profound dismay” about “clearly anti-Semitic” content after the fair opened in June, saying that an agreement had been reached with director general Sabine Schormann to “terminate (her) contract.”

An interim director will be appointed, the statement added.

The contemporary art event had been clouded in controversy for months over its inclusion of a Palestinian artists’ group strongly critical of the Israeli occupation.

Two days after the show opened to the public, one of the works on display by Indonesian art group Taring Padi also came under fire over depictions that both the German government and Jewish groups say went too far.

On the offending mural is the depiction of a pig wearing a helmet blazoned “Mossad.”

On the same work, a man is depicted with sidelocks often associated with Orthodox Jews, fangs and bloodshot eyes, and wearing a black hat with the SS-insignia.

The work was covered up after Jewish leaders and Israel’s embassy to Germany voiced “disgust,” but the row cast a deep shadow over an event now into its 15th edition.

Even in the run-up to the show’s opening, the group came under fire for including the collective called The Question of Funding over its links to the BDS boycott Israel movement.

BDS was branded anti-Semitic by the German parliament in 2019 and barred from receiving federal funds. Around half of Documenta’s 42-million-euro (dollar) budget comes from public funds.

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