It is supposed to start in Kassel in two weeks: the world’s largest gallery of contemporary art, Document Fifteen, is in its beginning stages and will open on June 18. But it crushes in packages. Now it became known that a showroom was broken into. what happened?
The burglary occurred on the night of May 27 to 28. The crime scene is Werner-Hilpert-Strasse 22 in Kassel. Among other things, the collective “Finance Question” will be shown in this house in Documenta. On the walls found graffiti: “187 Peralta”.
Vandalism: a law for murder and right-wing extremism?
Number 187 can be read as a reference to California Penal Code Section 187, which deals with murder. Especially in rap culture, this number is known as an icon. PERALTA can also be read as a kind of code: it is a reference to the name of Isabel Peralta, the leader of a far-right youth organization in Spain. There are currently a lot of assumptions, questions, and conditional moods.
Castle reacted with great annoyance. The document filed a criminal complaint. The police are investigating in all directions, and the security authorities have been called. In addition, the security concept of the document will be revised after this incident and the number of security personnel will be increased. Mayor Christian Gesell is also disturbed and the reaction is very clear: “Having discussions on Document Fifteen is one thing, and the desire to intimidate artists with criminal offenses far exceeds what is acceptable.”
In the lead up to the document, there was a lot of discussion. At the core of the debate are accusations of anti-Semitism leveled against the collective “funding issue,” which is said to have close ties to the BDS movement, which is critical of Israel. One artist in the group specifically criticized Israel as a colonial power. The accusation: Ruangrupa, the Indonesian curators of Documenta 15, either did not pay attention when selecting the artists or the document wanted to make the BDS movement “socially acceptable”. The document defends itself against this. But the accusation stands.
Document: New dimensions of turmoil
Germany’s Central Council of Jews had already taken part in January, Secretary of State for Culture Claudia Roth spoke. But the debate has not subsided so far. At the beginning of May, the allegations were scheduled to be discussed in a discussion thread, but the discussion was called off shortly before that. “Exposed,” the document claims.
The speeches likely made a lot of sense beforehand, especially since the series would have featured first-rate actors (along with historians, sociologists, and anti-Semitic scholars). Document galleries have always caused upheaval in the lead-up to this, and especially after that, because the trend was found strange and the art did not approve of it. This is as it should be. Art should excite, provoke. But: months before the excitement – and now also damages, property damage – this is new in that dimension.
Documenta: Kassel faces a huge challenge
So the document is a big problem even before it starts. How will this evolve from June 18? Meanwhile, the show had a strong, political focus. It is about deep questions. For example: Are Israeli artists no longer invited? Can and should one make historical comparisons: the Holocaust, the Holocaust? Issues such as colonialism and racism. These are all very basic and complex questions that appear in a variety of places, which can be observed and discussed for a long time.
It’s a huge challenge, a big task that Castle has now set for himself. It would have been nice to discuss all of this beforehand in a series of events – perhaps to clarify a little in order to unravel this very dangerous and intertwined situation.