• News
  • Nov 17, 2023

Remaining Four Documenta Committee Members Resign

Exterior view of documenta ruruHaus, Kassel, 2021. Photo by Nicolas Wefers. Courtesy documenta fifteen.

The remaining four members of Documenta’s Finding Committee—Simon Njami, Gong Yan, Kathrin Rhomberg, and María Iné Rodríguez—resigned their positions November 16, throwing the German art event’s 2027 exhibition into doubt. The news follows Tel Aviv-based artist and philosopher Bracha L. Ettinger’s and Mumbai-based writer and curator Ranjit Hoskote’s widely publicized departures on November 10 and 12, respectively.

Ettinger’s resignation letter, which was published on e-flux, cited the “tragic” situation in the Middle East and the ongoing violence that had made it difficult for her to travel and attend committee meetings. The statement went on to read: “The art world as we imagined it has collapsed and is now fragmented.” She added that, unfortunately, she could no longer contribute to the process [of Documenta].

Her resignation followed the scandal surrounding Hoskote, who was denounced by German news sources over his signing of a Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) petition back in 2019. Documenta director Andreas Hoffmann had described Hoskote’s signing of the BDS petition as “not in the least acceptable . . .  due to [the letter’s] antisemitic content.” German culture minister Claudia Roth also threatened to withdraw funding for the state-sponsored event, noting that the BDS letter had described Zionism as a “racist ideology,” and Israel as a “settler-colonial apartheid state.”

Shortly thereafter, Hoskote stepped down, writing: “The monstrous charge of anti-Semitism has been brought against my name in Germany, a country I have regarded with love and admiration, and to whose cultural institutions and intellectual life I have contributed for several decades, as a writer, curator, and cultural theorist . . . I feel, strongly, that I have been subjected to the proceedings of a kangaroo court.”

Hoskote’s four colleagues agreed, with their collective resignation letter stating that “the dynamics of the last few days, with their unchallenged media and public discrediting of our colleague Ranjit Hoskote, which forced him to resign from the Finding Committee, make us very doubtful if this prerequisite for any coming edition of documenta is currently given in Germany. Art requires a critical and multi-perspective examination of its diverse forms and contents to be able to resonate and develop its transformative capacity. Categorical, one-sided reductions and over-simplifications of complex contents threaten to nip any such examination in the bud.”

Following the mass resignation, Documenta released a statement thanking the Finding Committee for their participation, adding that it will “propose to the Supervisory Board that the finding process for Documenta 16 be completely restructured.”

Anna Lenchtner is assistant editor at ArtAsiaPacific.

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