Chancellor Scholz in Potsdam at the end of May
Photo: Eberhard Thonfeld / IMAGO
So Olaf Scholz avoids Kassel.
Yesterday the Federal Chancellor announced that he had "probably" always gone to the Documenta for the past 30 years, but this time he didn't want to.
That shows how nervous the federal government is.
A bad light fell not only on the Documenta, but also on Scholz's traffic light coalition.
His Minister of State for Culture, Claudia Roth, has to listen to calls for his resignation.
Minister of State for Culture sounds like a lot, but Roth, although one of the most prominent Greens, is ultimately just a department head in the Chancellery.
What she does, including what she does wrong, must be credited to her manager.
At this point it has to be said: Roth didn't want to get the job.
Rather, she was begged to take it on, while there were SPD people who had been fighting for the post.
But shortly before the end of the coalition negotiations, the office was awarded to the Greens, because otherwise it would have looked as if they would have missed out.
The Greens first had to find someone to fill the position.
They're not exactly known for their cultural-political competence, so they brought Roth back from what felt like retirement.
After all, she used to manage Rio Reiser's band.
In addition, it was decided to place a senior official at Roth's side as a doer, Andreas Görgen, who had previously worked for Frank-Walter Steinmeier in the Foreign Ministry.
Possibly as a consolation for the fact that Görgen was not allowed to go to the Office of the Federal President with Steinmeier, he now found himself near Scholz.
If Roth gives an interview, it can happen that her officer simply interferes.
He doesn't seem to like certain questions.
What the duo Roth/Görgen means for German culture played no role in the appointment.
Now you have the result.
Roth has no direct influence on the Documenta.
But for months she acted like she got everyone in the right mood.
She rejected warnings from the Central Council of Jews, but also from other organizations.
The Kassel scandal is therefore also a Roth scandal and a government scandal.
Even if everyone from Steinmeier to Scholz to Roth prefers to point the finger at Kassel and pretend that the city isn't in Hesse, but just outside of Jakarta.
It's easy to be outraged by Indonesian anti-Semitism.
Conveniently, this allows you to distract yourself from your own anti-Semitism.
But there are reasons why there are police officers in front of every synagogue.
In this way, the Documenta could be used to talk about where one should finally look – and not emphatically look the other way, as Scholz demonstrates with his Documenta boycott.
With him it seems as if the entire so-called Global South can be overlooked.
A former Documenta maker has shown how much colonial history shapes the present: Okwui Enwezor, responsible for the Documenta in 2002. He later became museum director in Munich, a few months before his death in 2019 he gave an interview to SPIEGEL, he said : »Here, not far from my apartment, Pegida supporters marched through the streets every Monday evening.
I've often just come home from work, I've seen them.
That basically clarified my position here, as an African in a predominantly monocultural city, I am someone who is on the outside.
And then you ask yourself, can you feel safe?
Who will help you if something happens to you?
It just goes through your head.«
The typical reflexes are evident in the reactions of politicians to the Documenta – people like to talk about the mistakes of others, not their own.
Olaf Scholz and his government show how to fool yourself.
Of course something has to happen, not only in Kassel, but also in Berlin.