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Opinion: documenta boss Schormann is leaving - better late than never!


Documenta boss Sabine Schormann throws in the towel - four weeks after showing an anti-Semitic work of art. Correct, thinks Stefan Dege.

Sabine Schormann's - not entirely voluntary - resignation as general director of documenta fifteen was due! Far too much time has passed before consequences were drawn from the scandal surrounding a work of art with anti-Semitic imagery. We talked, promised and discussed for far too long without anything happening. Until now.

The processing of the scandal caused by the appearance of the huge hidden object picture "People's Justice" by the artist collective Taring Padi at the start of documenta in mid-June was too hesitant: it showed a soldier with a pig's face and the Star of David on his scarf and the inscription "Mossad". on the helmet. A man with a kippa, a hat and side curls could be identified, with bloodshot eyes, pointed teeth and a crooked nose. You can hardly denigrate Jewish people more clearly. The picture was covered up and eventually hung down. Nothing else happened.

Works of art further unchecked

A public panel discussion in Kassel brought little clarification. The promised review of the remaining works of the documenta by an expert commission has not yet materialized. Meron Mendel , head of the Anne Frank educational institution, who was supposed to be involved in it, resigned his advisory mandate, exasperated. The artist Hito Steyerl had a film work dismantled in protest.

Just a few days ago - and therefore quite late - Sabine Schormann spoke up with a half-hearted statement . She was guilty of two things: an explanation as to how the hanging of the controversial Taring Padi banner came about in the first place. And the answer to the question: Who is responsible for this? Maybe because the answer should have been: Sabine Schormann, documenta general director. Or was Schormann so naive as to believe that the storm would pass?

Once again it shows: If you don't move, you will be moved. But others have not covered themselves in glory either, above all the documenta supervisory board headed by Mayor Christian Geselle (SPD) and his deputy, Hesse's Minister of Art Angela Dorn (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen). Both of them condemned any form of anti-Semitism early on. But they only acted today, four weeks after the start of the world art show and the scandal became visible.

Don't cover others with glory either

Your separation from documenta boss Schormann comes late, too late. The fact that the presentation of the banner with anti-Semitic imagery, as they argue, "crossed borders" and caused "considerable damage" to the documenta sounds long outdated. Quite a few others have already lamented the shambles of the documenta . Will journeyman and thorn be able to avert damage from themselves? Who knows!

Also in the wrecked boat is Minister of State for Culture Claudia Roth, whose cultural foundation in distant Berlin is one of the major sponsors of the Kassel documenta. Only two days ago she became clear and clearly distanced herself from the documenta management. Roth should have used her influence much earlier so that the anti-Semitism scandal could finally begin to be dealt with.

And what will become of the documenta now? The show has two months left. An interim managing director is to take over Schormann's duties. Whoever does the job, he or she must quickly clear the jungle of curatorial and organizational responsibilities, rid art of suspicion of anti-Semitism, and regain lost trust. It would be nice if art finally spoke again at the documenta in Kassel.