Art in the Diaspora

Simon Njami Resigns From Documenta 16 Committee

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Independent curator and writer Simon Njami, alongside three others, has resigned from the Documenta committee amidst accusations of antisemitism. The committee was charged with finding an artistic director for the 16th edition of Documenta in 2027.

The Documenta Art Exhibition is one of Germany’s most prestigious art exhibitions. It happens every five years. The exhibition lasts for 100 days, and art sales are not allowed. Documenta aims to bring Germany up to speed with the contemporary world of modern art. Over the years, it has become a vital facilitator of cross-cultural conversations.

 MADE YOU LOOK, Mafolofolo, 2022, installation views, at Documenta 15, 2022.
Image courtesy of Documenta Instagram.

Cultural theorist and art critic Ranjit Hoskoté was the first person from the initial six-member team to resign. Ranjit Hoskoté drew public attention and criticism for his involvement in signing the statement against the consulate general of Israel, Mumbai’s event on Hindutva and Zionism, dated August 26, 2019.

Dismantled artwork in Documenta 15 due to an antisemitic depiction. Image courtesy of DW.

In the resignation letter directed to Professor Dr. Andreas Hoffmann, Managing Director of Documenta und Museum Fridericianum, the four members – Simon Njami, Gong Yan, Kathrin Rhomberg, and María Inés Rodríguez- write:

We, the remaining members of the Finding Committee, after the recent resignations of our esteemed colleagues Bracha Lichtenberg Ettinger and Ranjit Hoskote, announce our collective resignation from this honorable task. Rest assured that we have not taken this step lightly; we do so with a heavy heart. If art is to take account of the complex cultural, political, and social realities of our present day, it needs appropriate conditions that allow for its diverse perspectives, perceptions, and discourses.

In response to the resignations, Documenta proposes in a statement that “the selection process for documenta 16 be entirely restructured” and that “the organizational review be fully completed with a resolution by the Supervisory Board on the changed structures before the process can commence afresh.

Read the full press release by Documenta 16 here.

Author

Rose Mwikali Musyoki is a creative writer from Nairobi, Kenya. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Business and Finance from the University of Embu, Kenya, and is the founder of Bloom Inc, an art startup in Kenya. Currently, she works as a writer for Art News Africa.

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