Olu Oguibe’s obelisk Monument to Strangers and Refugees was commissioned for last year’s Documenta 14 and has since stood in Kassel’s central pedestrian area Königsplatz. But earlier this year, in response to pressure from the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, the city council of Kassel began discussions to move the sculpture to another part of the city. Negotiations with Oguibe dragged on for months. Then a few days ago, the city council voted to remove the statue completely. The removal was promptly carried out in the early hours of the morning.
Henriette Gallus, who has served as head of communications for Documenta, provided the following update yesterday via her Facebook page:
UPDATE: City of Kassel sent out a press release.
Apparently the Obelisk is “in safe keeping”. The German word they use is “Verwahrung”, which usually is used for the forceful detention of a person under surveillance.
Further they explain that they are “respecting the position of the artist” that this work has been conceptualized site-specific, but the “democratic vote” of the city council assembly did “unfortunately disaccord” with his views.
Also — the reason for dismantling the work in the wee hours of the morning, on a national holiday, were to “guarantee maximum security”.
Also they allegedly remain “open to discuss the future of the Obelisk” — but at the same time they start refunding all the donations the people made for keeping the work in Kassel. So, “open” does not seem to really include the option to actually keep the work in Kassel.
Image: MiKi Lazar. Via Henriette Gallus’s Facebook page.