documenta opens

Kassel (dpa) – German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has opened one of the world’s most important exhibitions of modern art in Kassel. The documenta, which has been held in Kassel since 1955, is considered the world’s most significant exhibition of contemporary art alongside the Venice Biennale. It is only held every five years. For the 15th edition, the curating collective Ruangrupa has selected 14 collectives, organisations and institutions, as well as 54 artists. They have invited others to participate. According to the organisers, a total of 1,500 artists will be involved.

The focus of this year’s documenta is not the individual artwork, but art as a collective process. The concept of the Ruangrupa collective is based on Indonesian lumbung architecture. In the island nation, “lumbung” is the word for a communal rice barn in which the surplus harvest is stored for the benefit of the community. The artistic directors want to take this tradition of sharing and apply it to the world art exhibition in Kassel.

At the opening, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier also mentioned the limitations to artistic freedom, for the Indonesian curatorial collective Ruangrupa had been accused of including organisations that supported the cultural boycott of Israel or were anti-Semitic. Steinmeier said that criticising Israeli politics was allowed. “But a line is crossed when criticism of Israel turns into a questioning of its right to exist.”

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