Central Renowned Mumbai-based Poet Resigns from Documenta 16 Committee Amid Controversy

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Renowned poet, cultural theorist, and curator based in Mumbai, Ranjit Hoskote, has stepped down from the Finding Committee for Documenta 16, the prestigious art exhibition held in Germany every five years.

Hoskote’s resignation on November 12 came after accusations of “anti-Semitism” and support for the BDS movement, following his signing of a BDS India petition in 2019. This petition protested a discussion on “Zionism and Hindutva” hosted by the Consulate General of Israel in India. Documenta criticized Hoskote for signing a letter with “explicitly anti-Semitic content.”

The BDS movement aims to exert pressure on Israel in solidarity with Palestinians. The German Parliament deemed the BDS movement against Israel as anti-Semitic in 2019.

Speaking about his resignation, Hoskote expressed his disappointment in Germany’s shift towards far-right ideologies and its unwavering support for Israel, which he believes masks rising Islamophobia.

Hoskote also highlighted concerns about the implications of suppressing criticism of Israel in the art world, warning against censorship and exclusion of dissenting voices.

In his resignation letter, Hoskote criticized the conflation of anti-Semitism with criticism of the Israeli state and expressed his concerns about the lack of nuanced discussions on the issues at stake.

Another member of the Finding Committee, Israeli artist Bracha Ettinger, resigned for reasons unrelated to Hoskote, citing the challenging times facing Israel.

Documenta faced criticism during its 2022 edition for featuring works with anti-Semitic undertones. A commission of experts investigating the allegations against Documenta 15 found instances of anti-Semitism related to Israel.

In response to the resignations, Andreas Hoffmann, Managing Director of documenta und Museum Fridericianum gGmbH, emphasized the need to distance the organization from all forms of anti-Semitism to prevent a repeat of the events from Documenta 15.

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