No Code of Conduct for Future Artistic Management of Documenta

Wednesday, May 8, 2024
No Code of Conduct for Future Artistic Management of  Documenta

Following the public commenting procedure, the committees of Documenta and Museum Fridericianum gGmbH have adopted the outstanding resolutions on the five key recommendations from the final report of the organizational development.

After careful deliberation and detailed evaluation and consideration of feedback from the public commenting procedure, two of METRUM’s Recommendations have not been adopted in view of the need for a clear definition of roles between Management and Artistic Direction:

- Instead of the concept of two Codes of Conduct, only documenta und Museum Fridericianum gGmbH as the organizing body is to be required to draw up a Code of Conduct. This will form the orientational framework for the work of documenta. In contrast, the Artistic Direction will not be required to develop its own Code of Conduct. Instead, a public event organized jointly with documenta und Museum Fridericianum gGmbH is to be held early on in the regular documenta event schedule after the appointment of the Artistic Direction, where the Artistic Direction will present their artistic concept and also explain their understanding of respect for human dignity and how this is to be ensured in the exhibition they are to curate.

- The Supervisory Board will not be reduced in size. In this way, the City of Kassel and the State of Hesse will be adequately represented. Two representatives of the federal government will be admitted to the Supervisory Board as full members with voting rights.

In line with METRUM’s Recommendations, the Finding Committee and the procedure for its appointment at the suggestion of the Management will be retained, whereby soft selection criteria meeting the goal of diversity will continue to be strengthened. Furthermore, a Scientific Advisory Board (“Wissenschaftlicher Beirat”) consisting of six people will be established, with its Chair to sit on the Supervisory Board as an advisory member without voting rights, and the tasks of the Management and Artistic Direction to be clarified with a clear separation of executive and curatorial roles – with the latter enjoying full artistic freedom. Finally, a Management Board will be established within documenta und Museum Fridericianum gGmbH, to which the department heads and also the future Artistic Direction will belong.

Chairman of the Supervisory Board of documenta und Museum Fridericianum gGmbH and Lord Mayor of the City of Kassel, Sven Schoeller, emphasizes: "With the expert opinions obtained after documenta 15, including METRUM’s Final Report, and the resolutions adopted today, documenta gGmbH heads into the future strengthened with an effective set of instruments for the protection of artistic freedom and for protection against anti-human discrimination and anti-Semitism. The transparent process surrounding the Recommendations for the Organizational Review and the committed participation of the interested public contributed to the balanced decisions we had to make in this difficult area of conflict. On behalf of documenta gGmbH, I would like to express my sincere gratitude for this." He adds: "The skepticism towards the proposal of a Code of Conduct that was already apparent within the committees prior to the commenting procedure was also echoed by a number of submissions during the commenting procedure, although the position here is viewed from a discursive perspective. The solution of an event format that has now been adopted fulfills the purpose pursued by the consulting firm METRUM with its proposal of the two Codes of Conduct – namely early dialogue between the Artistic Direction and those responsible at the organizing gGmbH – without affecting the aspect of artistic freedom. Thanks to this solution, we can therefore dispense with the second Code of Conduct and still achieve the intended protective purposes."

The Hessian Minister of State for Science and Research, Art and Culture and newly elected Deputy Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Timon Gremmels, emphasizes: "It is one of the most complex tasks of current cultural policy to strike a practicable balance between the protection of artistic freedom and the preservation of human dignity. Even in times of the increasing conflicts that are now playing out in the art world, both these lofty values must be respected in equal measure. Today, we have created the pre-conditions for this to succeed at the next documenta. I am confident that, with the clearly defined division of roles between Management and Artistic Direction, incidents like those at documenta 15 will not be repeated."

Andreas Hoffmann, Managing Director of documenta und Museum Fridericianum gGmbH, says: "I am convinced that with the toolbox we have now adopted, we are ideally positioned to make great strides towards documenta 16. The first step is to set up the International Finding Committee very swiftly."

Stephanie Cime

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Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.


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