Documenta’s Next Edition Moves Forward—Without a Code of Conduct for Its Next Leader - Living Strong Television Network

Even as it faces renewed scrutiny, Documenta, the famed German art festival, will continue onward with its next edition—but it will crucially not adopt a code of conduct for its next artistic director, as was initially expected.

A code of conduct for the next artistic director was among the recommendations laid out last year by a expert advisory panel appointed by Documenta’s supervisory board. At the time, Documenta, which occurs every five years in Kassel, was still reeling from an antisemitism scandal that engulfed the most-recent edition in 2022.

Aftershocks of that controversy are still being felt today, nearly two years after that exhibition opened. To appoint the next artistic director, Documenta had named, on the recommendation of past artistic directors, appointed a six-member finding committee made up of international curators. In November, following the October 7 Hamas attack and scrutiny over one committee member’s views on Israel, the entire selection committee resigned en masse. Antisemitism allegations had resurfaced in the German press before the dissembling of that committee.

Last November, Documenta promised an update on the situation, and onlookers finally got one this week. Documenta reaffirmed that the next edition is still on, although the exhibition did not name a new artistic director or an opening date in its press release, though the festival’s website still lists June 12–September 19, 2027, as the next edition’s run dates. The most vital piece of information, however, is the one about the code of conduct.

Documenta said that the exhibition as a whole and the Fridericianum museum, a partner of Documenta and one of the primary venues for the show, would adopt their own code of conduct. However, the artistic director themselves would not be required to do so.

Still, the artistic director will be required to give a public talk in which they must explain their curatorial concept and “their understanding of respect for human dignity and how this is to be ensured in the exhibition they are to curate.”

Yet the supervisory board is now being reduced from its current 12 members to between five and nine members. Documenta said that the city of Kassel and the state of Hesse would continue to be represented, and that two members from the federal government would also be on the board.

Documenta will also adopt the creation of a Scientific Advisory Board, consisting of six people with backgrounds in the arts, culture, and sciences.

Documenta managing director Andreas Hoffmann said in a statement, “I am convinced that with the toolbox we have now adopted, we are ideally positioned to make great strides towards documenta 16. The first step is to set up the International Finding Committee very swiftly.”

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