German exhibition Documenta accused of censoring art

14 June 2012

The German artist Gregor Schneider says that the organisers of the exhibition Documenta 13 have “censored” a work he planned to install in the Karlskirche church in Kassel, home of the quinquennial exhibition until 16 September 2012.

Gregor Schneider says that his art piece ‘It’s all Rheydt Kolkata, Kassel 2012’, consisting of material dredged from the river Ganges in northern India, was withdrawn after Bernd Leifeld, the managing director of Documenta, intervened. Schneider had been given 70,000 euro by the Protestant Academy of Hofgeismar to make the piece.

The Art Newspaper reported that it understands that Bernd Leifeld expressed concerns that visitors could mistake the installation for a Documenta project, and that any mix-up could have damaged the reputation of the prestigious German exhibition.

Representatives of the academy declined to comment.

Meanwhile, the German sculptor Stephan Balkenhol has installed an outsized human figure with outstretched arms in the bell tower of a Catholic church in Kassel despite opposition from Documenta’s management. He reportedly also accuses Documenta of “curtailing” cultural events in Kassel, but the exhibition’s artistic director says that she “would never [censor art]”.

The German artist Siglinde Kallnbach has launched a campaign in support of Balkenhol and Schneider.


The Art Newspaper, Basel daily edition – 12 June 2012:
Documenta sparks “censorship” row
The German artist Gregor Schneider says organisers of the exhibition have blocked a work he planned to install in Karlskirche church, Kassel. By Gareth Harris and Julia Michalska.
Blouin Art Info – 8 June 2012:
Conflict in Kassel: Is Documenta Censoring Neighboring Art Events?
Welt Online – 26 May 2012:
“Documenta nur noch in chinesischen Kleinstädten”
Die Weltkunstschau verbietet Ausstellungen und brüstet sich damit: Der Künstler Gregor Schneider klagt an. Von Tim Ackermann
George Knight – 28 May 2012:
Documenta censureert de openbare ruimte van Kassel


More information about “It’s all Rheydt”:

Goethe Institut:
Art in Public Space: “it’s all Rheydt” Kolkata 2011



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