euronews_icons_loadingPhoto shows 'People's Justice (2001)' by the Indonesian artist collective Taring Padi

The world-famous contemporary art exhibition Documenta, which opened on Saturday in Kassel, Germany, has partially covered up an artwork after it was criticised for containing anti-Semitic images.

The move came after several groups including politicians and representatives of Jewish associations demanded the removal of the artwork.

The Israeli Embassy has also expressed outrage at the image, saying that the work was promoting Goebbels-style propaganda. 

What does the controversial artwork show?

The large-scale work titled ‘People’s Justice (2001), created by the Indonesian underground art collective Taring Padi, is meant to depict the violence under the former General Suharto’s dictatorship.

It features many satirical characters including a group of soldiers wearing a green uniform with pig faces. The soldiers are wearing red scarves featuring the Star of David and helmets labelled with the word ‘Mossad’ (Israel’s national intelligence agency).

Another character with side-locks and fangs smokes a cigar while wearing a black hat with “SS,” the acronym for Hitler’s black-uniformed Schutzstaffel. 

The artwork has since been partially covered up by Documenta. 

“This picture, which is now at issue, clearly has anti-Semitic imagery. Protection against anti-Semitism, protection against racism and any form of misanthropy, these are the foundations of our coexistence. And that’s where artistic freedom has its limit,” explained Claudia Roth, the German Minister of State for Culture.

Taring Padi issued an apology for the scandal their artwork has caused, claiming that it was not their intention for the characters to be seen in an anti-Semitic light.

Video editor • Theo Farrant



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