Germany and the Unfolding Tragedy in Gaza

by Andrea Scrima

In November 2023, in an essay for the German national newspaper die taz, I wrote that Germany’s Jews were once again afraid for their lives. It was—and is—a shameful state of affairs, considering that the country has invested heavily in coming to terms with its fascist past and has made anti-antisemitism and the unconditional support of Israel part of its “Staatsräson,” or national interest—or, as others have come to define it, the reason for the country’s very existence. The Jews I’m referring to here, however, were not reacting to a widely deplored lack of empathy following the brutal attacks of October 7. In an open letter initiated by award-winning American journalist Ben Mauk and others, more than 100 Jewish writers, journalists, scientists, and artists living in Germany described a political climate where any form of compassion with Palestinian civilians was (and continues to be) equated with support for Hamas and criminalized. Assaults on the democratic right to dissent in peaceful demonstrations; cancellations of publications, fellowships, professorships, and awards; police brutality against the country’s immigrant population, liberal-minded Jews, and other protesting citizens—the effects have been widely documented, but what matters most now is now: the fact that the German press is still, four months later, nearly monovocal in its support of Israel and that over 28,000 civilians, two-thirds of them women and children, have died. Read more »

Against the Erasure of Dissent

A Conversation between Andrea Scrima and Anike Joyce Sadiq

“Against the Erasure of Dissent,” part of the exhibition “Mit Glück hat es nichts zu tun” (It has nothing to do with luck), Anike Joyce Sadiq at the Künstlerhaus Stuttgart, Germany (2022). Photo: Andrea Scrima

The following conversation took place from November 2021 to February 2022 via e-mail in reaction to a general meeting of the Villa Romana Association that took place on October 28, 2021 in Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin. The authors participated in this meeting in their function as members, having been actively involved for two years in a group of artists that had formed in response to a new funding situation. When there was no longer any way to prevent a simultaneous changeover in directors, the group sought to at least preserve the Villa Romana as a place created by artists for artists and to ensure that the general direction of the program established under Angelika Stepken be continued.

The Villa Romana was founded in 1905 as a German art association in Florence. In addition to an exhibition program and numerous collaborations with artists as well as with art and cultural institutions both local and international, the Villa Romana Prize is awarded each year to four artists or collectives from Germany in the form of a ten-month residency and grant.

This conversation attempts, from the authors’ perspective, to reconstruct, contextualize, and archive the discussions that occurred between artist members and the board and the course these took over time. It poses questions about membership and the extent of agency it allows, and inquires into the role artists play in shaping institutional structures. Financial and political dependencies, the seeming openness of a diversity-based policy toward art and culture, and the (re)distribution of the real and symbolic capital that becomes legitimized by a non-profit status are subjects of investigation. Read more »