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CULTURE

German art show slammed over anti-Semitic images

Jewish leaders and Israel's embassy to Germany have voiced "disgust" over anti-Semitic images on display at Documenta, one of the world's biggest art fairs.

A woman stands with the Israeli flag next to a mural at the Documenta 15 exhibition on June 20th 2022.
A woman stands with the Israeli flag next to a partially covered mural at the Documenta 15 exhibition on June 20th 2022. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Swen Pförtner

Documenta had been clouded in controversy for months over its inclusion of a Palestinian artists’ group strongly critical of the Israeli occupation.

On Monday – two days after the show opened to the public – one of the works on display by Indonesian art group Taring Padi also came under fire over depictions that both the German government and Jewish groups say went too far.

On the offending mural is the depiction of a pig wearing a helmet blazoned “Mossad”.

On the same work, a man is depicted with sidelocks often associated with Orthodox Jews, fangs and bloodshot eyes, and wearing a black hat with the SS-insignia.

“We are disgusted by the anti-Semitic elements publicly displayed at the Documenta 15 exhibition,” said Israel’s embassy in a statement.

“Elements being portrayed in certain exhibits are reminiscent of propaganda used by Goebbels and his goons during darker times in German history,” it added.

“All red lines have not only been crossed, they have been shattered.”

READ ALSO: Top German art show starts amid anti-Semitism row

Josef Schuster, of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, noted that “artistic freedom ends where xenophobia begins”.

Culture Minister Claudia Roth also said this is where “artistic freedom finds its limits”, as she urged the show’s curators to “draw the necessary
consequences”.

The president of the German-Israel Society, Volker Beck, told Bild daily that he was filing a case with prosecutors over the picture.

Documenta later said it and the Indonesian collective had decided to cover up the work and install an explanation next to it.

No Israeli Jewish artist

Documenta, held in the German city of Kassel, includes the works of more than 1,500 participants.

For the first time since its launch in 1955, the show is being curated by a collective, Indonesia’s Ruangrupa.

But even in the run-up to the show’s opening this weekend, the group has come under fire for including the collective called The Question of Funding over its links to the BDS boycott Israel movement.

BDS was branded anti-Semitic by the German parliament in 2019 and barred from receiving federal funds. Around half of Documenta’s 42-million-euro budget comes from public funds.

Opening the exhibition this weekend, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he had considered skipping the event.

“While some criticism is justified of Israeli policies, such as on settlement building”, the recognition of the Israeli state is “the basis and prerequisite of the debate” in Germany.

He called it disturbing that some from outside Europe or North America had refused to take part in cultural events in which Jewish Israelis are participating.

It was striking that no Jewish artist from Israel was represented at this edition of Documenta, he noted.

By Hui Min NEO

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CULTURE

Pay women footballers the same as men, says German chancellor

Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Tuesday made a push for equal pay for men and women international footballers after Germany's successful run at the recent European Championships.

Pay women footballers the same as men, says German chancellor

“My position on this is clear,” Scholz said after a meeting with the German Football Association (DFB) to discuss the issue.

“We talked about how we can continue to help more girls and women get excited about football. Of course, the wages at such tournaments play a major role in this,” he said.

“That’s why it makes sense to discuss equal pay. I made the suggestion and I’m very grateful that there is a willingness to discuss this issue.”

Germany scored their biggest major tournament success since 2015 at this year’s European Championships, losing to England in the final at Wembley.

Scholz attended the final and also supported the women’s team by tweeting: “It’s 2022, and women and men should be paid equally. This also applies to sport, especially for national teams.”

READ ALSO: Scholz to cheer on Germany at Euro 2022 final

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) visits the DFP headquarters on Tuesday.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) visits the DFP (German Football Association) headquarters on Tuesday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sebastian Gollnow

Germany’s women would have received €60,000 each if they had triumphed at the tournament, while the men would have received €400,000 each had they prevailed at the Euros last year.

Bernd Neuendorf, president of the DFB, said he understood the argument “that equal work and success should also have the same value”.

“I’m willing to discuss in our committees whether our payment system is up to date or whether it should be adjusted,” he said.

Germany coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg suggested that international footballers’ wages could be evened out by paying women more and men less.

Officials must now “follow up with action” after the meeting, she said in an interview with the ZDF broadcaster.

Scholz said he was “very, very proud” of the women’s performance at the Euros, even if “it didn’t quite work out”.

“I hope it will have a long-lasting effect, not only on the players themselves… but also on football in Germany,” he said.

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