Documenta Kicks Off Search for Artistic Director of 2027 Edition

Still reeling from bitter controversy over last year’s show, Documenta, one of the world’s biggest recurring art exhibitions, has officially begun the search for the director of its next edition in 2027.

The show, which takes place once every five years in Kassel, Germany, is expected to announce the next artistic director in late 2023 or early 2024. Today, however, Documenta whetted people’s appetites by revealing the selection committee that will find that curator.

Continuing the 2022 edition’s focus on the Global South, half of the six-person committee is based in Asia or Latin America. The rest of the members live in Europe.

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Installation featuring a painted skeleton figure in a grassy area before a towering mural.

That committee includes Bracha L. Ettinger, Gong Yan, Ranjit Hoskoté, Simon Njami, Kathrin Rhomberg, and María Inés Rodríguez.

Ettinger is an artist based in Tel Aviv and Paris known for work that deals with feminist theory and psychoanalysis. Gong is the director of the Power Station of Art, arguably the most important contemporary art space in Shanghai, and is also an artist. Hoskoté is a writer and critic based in Mumbai whose past curatorial credits include the 2008 Gwangju Biennale in South Korea, which he organized with Okwui Enwezor. Njami, who lives in Paris, is a curator who has also worked with Enwezor previously; Njami is best known for cofounding Revue Noire, a pioneering journal about African contemporary art that ran from 1991 to 2001.

Rhomberg and Rodríguez both have institutional ties. Rhomberg previously directed Secession in Vienna and the Kölnischer Kunstverein in Cologne, Germany, and now resides in the Austrian capital. Rodríguez formerly directed the CAPC Musée d’art contemporain in Bordeaux, France, before being dismissed in 2018 because her program was “too demanding,” a controversy that captured the art world at the time. She is now curator-at-large at the Museu de Arte de São Paulo and is based between that Brazilian city and Paris.

In a joint statement, Christian Geselle, the mayor of Kassel, and Angela Dorn, Deputy Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Hesse’s Minister for Science and the Arts, said, “We have been able to enlist six eminent experts from throughout the world who, with their different artistic, curatorial and cultural-theoretical backgrounds and indeed as individuals, together stand for the modernity, internationality, and diversity of documenta. The Finding Committee now has ample time to attract the best and most innovative concepts to Kassel.”

Hanging over the announcement was the scandal that underpinned the 2022 edition of Documenta, where the show’s artists and leaders faced repeated allegations of antisemitism. In the wake of the controversy, Documenta released an extensive report that called for significant changes to future editions. Many have worried about what all this could mean for funding for the show going forward.

Geselle and Dorn did not avoid mentioning the antisemitism allegations, saying, “It is our goal to address the shortcomings surrounding the issue of anti-Semitism at documenta fifteen. Prerequisites for the next steps, including the already agreed organizational development, are in place. At the same time, we wish to give the world’s most important exhibition of contemporary art the planning time and space and security that its unique status deserves. With the Finding Committee in place, we are ideally positioned to do so.”

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