Tram with German-Israel friendship banner with in foreground documenta fifteen poster in Germany's Kassel

documenta fifteen – more about the politics than the art

I intended this documenta fifteen review for The New European to be mostly dedicated to what was on show rather than about the antisemitism controversies that the show in Germany’s Kassel has been embroiled in. Unfortunately, then, right after the opening, there was another major incident and the piece slightly changed direction. Even so, when talking about what what on show, at least during the preview, it’s hard to say that this is a brilliant documenta. It’s mostly a missed opportunity to showcase some of the best of the Global South. Instead it’s part agitprop throwback to the 1960s and 1970s and part naive-seeming return to nature and idealised collectivist village life with the theme of lumbung, the Indonesian communal rice barn. The attempt to open up documenta and make it less stuffy is attractive, ruangrupa inject a welcome dynamic and change of emphasis but the whole is so loosely curated that for such a large exhibition it dramatically under-delivers.

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Journalist, writer, podcaster

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