The documenta fifteen art exhibition initially showed an anti-Semitic work of art. After a late-night meeting of the Supervisory Board, the first personal conclusions have now been drawn.

After the anti-Semitism scandal at the Documenta, the general director of the exhibition, Sabine Schormann, resigned from her position. The supervisory board and shareholders have reached an agreement with her to terminate the service contract at short notice, as the control committee announced on Saturday in Kassel. An interim successor will initially be sought.

The committee around the chairman, Kassel’s mayor Christian Geselle (SPD), and his deputy, Hesse’s art minister Angela Dorn (Greens), drew the conclusion from the anti-Semitism scandal at this year’s show. A work with anti-Semitic imagery was dismantled after a wave of outrage just days after the start of the world art exhibition. Months earlier there had been allegations of anti-Semitism against the curating artist collective Ruangrupa from Indonesia.

The supervisory board clearly distanced itself from the plant. “The presentation of the banner ‘People’s Justice’ by the Taring Padi artist collective, with its anti-Semitic imagery, was a clear transgression and the documenta was inflicted with considerable damage.” The incident must be clarified promptly.

Demands for his resignation after a scandal at Documenta

In the past few weeks, there have been repeated calls for the 60-year-old to resign. Among other things, she was accused of inaction in dealing with the scandal.

Most recently, the head of the Anne Frank educational institution, Meron Mendel, withdrew as a consultant to the Documenta. He was actually supposed to be part of a commission of experts that was supposed to examine the remaining works of the documenta for further anti-Semitic content. Schormann, however, did not follow up on their announcements with action, he criticized. As a result, Hito Steyerl, one of the most important international artists, declared that she was withdrawing her works from the Documenta.

Schormann moved to Kassel as general director in autumn 2018. The year before, the non-profit Documenta GmbH hit the headlines because of a deficit in the millions at Documenta 14 in 2017. The managing director at the time, the art historian Annette Kulenkampf, then resigned from her post. For a transitional period, the music manager Wolfgang Orthmayr initially managed the business.

Before moving to the documenta, Schormann had held a dual position as director of the Niedersächsische Sparkassenstiftung and the VGH-Stiftung. The tasks of the 60-year-old in Kassel included the preparation and organization of Documenta fifteen. Born in Bad Homburg, she is a Germanist and cultural manager. In the 1980s she studied German, philosophy and art history at the University of Mainz. In 1992 she received her doctorate on a topic about Bettina von Arnim.