"documenta fifteen as a Watershed Moment? Art, Politics, and the Public Sphere" – Symposium in Kassel

documenta fifteen (June 18 to September 25, 2022) formed the focal point of a debate on the present day legacy of the Holocaust and colonialism. Now that some time has passed since the events of that time, documenta and Museum Fridericianum gGmbH would like to look forward, from documenta fifteen, with a symposium conceived by the documenta Institute: What impact has documenta fifteen had on art, politics, and the public sphere? In a series of talks, Nicole Deitelhoff, Klaus Holz, Yael Kupferberg, Thomas Macho, Meron Mendel, Armin Nassehi, Maria Neumann, and Natan Sznaider will take the floor. The event will be hosted by Heinz Bude. 

The background for the symposium is a research project on documenta fifteen as a public event and place for discourse, led by Meron Mendel and Heinz Bude. The project explores the dispute over an exhibition of contemporary art and the question as to the role of Eurocentric modernism in a global society that can no longer be conceived from Europe alone. Publication of the research project is planned for summer 2024.

Commenting on this Andreas Hoffmann, Managing Director of documenta und Museum Fridericianum gGmbH highlights: "With its transgressions in the field of anti-Semitism, documenta fifteen amounted to a social watershed. Since then, the debate around artistic freedom and its limits has seen increasing polarization. I think it is very important to discuss this here in Kassel now some time has passed. I would therefore like to thank Heinz Bude very warmly for his work in this field and for his willingness to open it up to the public already now."

Heinz Bude stresses, "This symposium picks up on the issue of artistic freedom in dark times with the necessary calm, but also with the requisite clarity. I very much look forward to hearing our guests and to engaging in unfettered debate."


documenta fifteen as a Watershed Moment?
Art, Politics, and the Public Sphere

With Nicole Deitelhoff, Klaus Holz, Yael Kupferberg, Thomas Macho, Meron Mendel, Armin Nassehi, Maria Neumann, Natan Sznaider

Friday, November 17, 7–9 pm and Saturday, November 18, 2023, 10–4 pm
Venue: UK 14, Untere Karlsstr. 14, 34117 Kassel, www.uk14.de

Admission free.
No registration required.
Limited seating capacity.
Live broadcast in the foyer.
With livestreaming.
In German with English simultaneous translation.


Friday, November 17, 2023
79 pm
Entrance from 6.30 pm

7 pm
Welcome speech
Andreas Hoffmann

Opening Remarks
Angela Dorn

Hosted by
Heinz Bude

7.159 pm
Module 1: German Conflicts of Interpretation?
With Nicole Deitelhoff and Meron Mendel

To kick things off, the art event documenta fifteen will be explored as a test case for changes in the political culture of the Federal Republic of Germany. What is non-negotiable and in what respects are negotiations necessary?

Saturday, November 18, 2023
104 pm
Entrance from 9.30 am

1011.30 am
Module 2: documenta as an Exhibition and Media Event
With Armin Nassehi and Klaus Holz

Next, we will look at the interferences between personal experience at documenta fifteen and the media coverage of documenta fifteen. What tensions, conflicts, and divisions have emerged in its reception?

121.30 pm
Module 3: Israel and Global Unease
With Natan Sznaider and Thomas Macho

Drawing to a close, the unspoken implications of this debate are then addressed. In reactions to the critique of documenta fifteen, a distinction between a legitimate and an illegitimate "critique of Israel" was made. What unease is associated with the name Israel, and by whom? 

1.302.30 pm
Lunch Break

2.304 pm
Module 4: Art and its Contaminations
With Maria Neumann and Yael Kupferberg

Last but not least, the trail of contaminations is addressed within the history of the documenta exhibitions. Here, historical analysis collides with personal confrontations with the issue. What fears and what anxieties have the various documenta exhibitions generated in whom?

Streaminglinks on Friday, November 17, 2023

German: https://youtube.com/live/mYT0CPu4k0Q
English: https://youtube.com/live/NaNSkpYjink

Streaminglinks on Saturday, November 18, 2023

German: https://youtube.com/live/NWHLNyplon8
English: https://youtube.com/live/ZrKu4_sKxD4

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