Documenta 15 and the Controversy over Anti-Semitism

Thursday, July 7, 2022, 11:00 am - 12:00 pm EDT // 17:00 - 18:00 CEST

Even before the June opening of the fifteenth iteration of the prestigious Documenta contemporary art exhibition in the city of Kassel, several controversies, including alleged anti-Semitism on the part of the Indonesian organizers and some artists, had been swirling. Then, a banner was unveiled on the first day in which several Jewish figures were depicted in offensive, anti-Semitic ways. This has unleashed a torrent of critical commentary. AGI has brought together three leading experts to help us to understand the controversies and the debates surrounding them in Germany.

Dr. Sabine Kriebel, Lecturer, Modern and Contemporary Art, University College Cork
Dr. Mark W. Rectanus, Professor of German Studies, Iowa State University
Dr. Peter Rehberg, Head of Collections and Archives, Schwules Museum, Berlin

Dr. Eric Langenbacher, Director of the Society, Culture and Politics Program, American-German Institute

This event will convene via Zoom. Please contact Ms. Elizabeth Hotary at with any questions.

Sabine Kriebel is a lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Art at University College Cork, Republic of Ireland. Her work lies in the intersections of subject formation and the aesthetic-material world of modernity. She has published widely on photography and photography theory, political photomontage, Dada tactics, artists’ magazines and social intervention, and gender politics. Her work has appeared in journals such as Oxford Art Journal, October, New German Critique, and Kritische Berichte, in major international exhibition catalogues and foundational texts on photography, and has been supported by the Social Science Research Council/Berlin Program, the Fulbright Foundation, DAAD, the Mellon Foundation and the Hans Arp Stiftung. Before joining the academic staff at UCC in 2004, she worked at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, collaborating on the pathbreaking Dada exhibition of 2005 and assisting in the Department of Photographs. Sabine Tania Kriebel earned her Ph.D. in Modern and Contemporary Art History from the University of California, Berkeley. She holds an M.A. from the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art, where object-centered research was facilitated by extraordinary museum collections, and a B.A. in Political Economies from the University of California, Berkeley, with a specialization in international mass media. She spent a year studying political science and art history at the Université Lumière Lyon II.

Mark W. Rectanus is University Professor of German Studies (Emeritus) in the Department of World Languages and Cultures at Iowa State University. He received his Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis and completed his dissertation on paperback series in Germany as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Munich. Professor Rectanus has been a visiting professor at The Ohio State University and an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Research Fellow at the University of Munich. His publications include research on the German publishing industry, the book and electronic media, contemporary German literature, corporate sponsorships, cultural politics, museum studies, and contemporary art. Much of his research addresses the globalization of culture, including his book Culture Incorporated: Museums, Artists, and Corporate Sponsorships (University of Minnesota Press), and the impact of globalization on contemporary museums. He has published numerous articles, including essays in: German Studies Review, New German Critique, TELOS, Performance Research, and Finance and Society. His most recent book is Museums Inside Out: Artist Collaborations and New Exhibition Ecologies (University of Minnesota Press, 2020).

Peter Rehberg is a writer, critic, and curator. He holds a Ph.D. in Literature from New York University and has taught and researched at several universities and institutes in the United States and Germany. He has published two novels and a collection of short stories. He writes regularly for German media, including Zeit Online, Texte zur Kunst, der Freitag, Merkur, Sissy, and Siegessäule. In his critical work, he focuses on queer theory, pornography, and queer visual culture. He curated exhibitions on contemporary queer art and queer German history. Since 2018, he has been head of collections and archives at Schwules Museum, Berlin. Amongst his recent publications are Hipster Porn: Queere Männlichkeiten und affektive Sexualitäten im Fanzine Butt and “Energie ohne Macht: Christian Maurels Theorie des Anus im Kontext von Guy Hocquenghem und der Geschichte von Queer Theory,” the afterword to Maurel‘s Essay Für den Arsch, which was formerly attributed to Guy Hocquenghem.

Further analysis of Documenta 15:

Eric Langenbacher, “The Anti-Semitism Scandal at Documenta 15

Mark W. Rectanus, “Documenta 15 and Anti-Semitism: Curating the Meta-Collective, Translocating Art, and Anti-Semitism

This webinar is supported by the AGI Harry & Helen Gray Culture and Politics Program. It is presented in partnership with the BMW Center for German and European Studies, Georgetown University.