A “São Paulo Jewish collective” on false rumors about documenta and antisemitism

A “São Paulo Jewish collective” on false rumors about documenta and antisemitism

e-flux Notes

Casa do Povo building with Errorists flag by Grupo Etcétera, and neon by Yael Bartana, São Paulo, Brazil, 2017. Archive: Casa do Povo / Instituto Cultural Israelita Brasileiro.

July 20, 2022
A “São Paulo Jewish collective” on false rumors about documenta and antisemitism
by Casa do Povo

To Whom It May Concern:

We go public today to answer the rumors that were published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Niklas Maak, “Einfach So Weiterfeiern,” July 8, 2022) saying that a “São Paulo Jewish collective” had been invited, and then disinvited, to participate in documenta fifteen’s lumbung network (a group consisting mostly of art institutions brought together by the documenta artistic team) because of “protests from participants close to Palestine.”

We believe that we are the collective to which the article refers. We wish to clarify that we were never officially invited to join the lumbung network. Informal conversations ended (as sometimes happened in the last couple of years) because of the Covid situation. ruangrupa decided to stick to the already invited fourteen institutions. Moreover, the fact that we are a Jewish institution was never discussed, and there was no antisemitism whatsoever.

Of course we were deeply hurt by the antisemitic images in Taring Padi’s mural that were thoroughly discussed and rightfully condemned in public debate in the last month, but we also think that documenta and ruangrupa did the right thing by dismantling the work in a matter of days, a decision we know is always difficult to make. While we would like to better understand the genealogy of these images, we are already thankful that documenta, the artistic team, and the artists officially apologized. So we ask: What else should they do?

We are a Brazilian Jewish institution. We are called Casa do Povo (The People’s House). We were created by Eastern-European Jewish migrants for two reasons: first, to keep up the fight against fascism, and second, to work as a “lieu de mémoire” for the six million Jews murdered in the Shoah. We try to fulfill this ambitious mission through many programs, mostly art related. We are motivated by the belief that the Shoah should never happen again, not only to the Jewish people, but to any people. In that sense, we advocate for the interconnections between the fights against antisemitism and against racism, but not only between these fights; we also understand that these fights are connected to struggles against many forms of denialism—regarding the climate crisis, First Nations’ access to land, colonial violence…the list goes on…(continue reading here).

—Casa do Povo

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