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After Jens Hoffmann’s Suspension Over Sexual Harassment Claims, Other Institutions Await His Fate

The Jewish Museum in New York.

COURTESY JEWISH MUSEUM

After the Jewish Museum in New York suspended Jens Hoffmann on Monday over allegations of sexual harassment, other institutions involved with the globetrotting curator have adopted a similar stance. The Honolulu Biennial, whose 2019 edition Hoffmann had been appointed to curate, cut ties. The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit suspended him in his role as curator at large, as did Kadist, an international foundation for which Hoffmann served as an adviser.

With the exception of the Honolulu Biennial, which announced an end to working with Hoffmann altogether, all of these organizations, as well as a few new ones, have announced suspensions contingent on the findings of a review by the Jewish Museum of complaints brought to its attention late last week.

ARTnews has since learned that Hoffmann has been suspended by Mousse Magazine, the Milan-based art publication for which he worked as editor-at-large. “While we were never made aware of any complaints over the years Jens Hoffmann has contributed to the magazine as editor-at-large,” Stefano Cernuschi, Mousse’s head of publishing said, “we have decided to suspend our collaboration with Jens until the allegations raised against him are clarified.”

Similarly, the Fundación Arte, a Buenos Aires–based foundation for which Hoffmann served as artistic director, suspended him for the time being. “We have been very sorry to read the many reports on the allegations of sexual harassment against Jens Hoffmann,” said a statement issued Thursday by the foundation. “We are not aware of any accusations of such conduct relating to his work with Fundación Arte. Our heartfelt thoughts are with those who have experienced any form of abuse. No woman or man should be subjected to harassment in the work place. It has been decided that Jens Hoffmann’s position as artistic director of Fundación Arte will be suspended with immediate effect while the matter is investigated.”

Likewise, the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary of Art has now suspended Hoffmann from involvement in its upcoming People’s Biennial. “The Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art staff has been working with Jens Hoffmann for the past two years to bring People’s Biennial 3 to our museum,” Paula Katz, iMOCA’s director, said on Thursday. “Until the allegations by the staff at the Jewish Museum are resolved, we are suspending Hoffman’s involvement with the exhibition.”

Hoffmann.

The Jewish Museum’s original announcement said that “a number of Jewish Museum staff members” had come forward with complaints about Hoffmann’s behavior during his tenure there. Beyond that, it stipulated that all future projects with him had been halted “while we review the allegations.”

Immediately following news of the initial suspension, Lance Gotko, a lawyer representing Hoffmann, said in response, “He can firmly say he has never subjected anyone at the museum to sexual harassment.”

Days later, Gotko said that neither he nor his client has received further communication from the Jewish Museum since. “None of those organizations have said he engaged in any wrongdoing whatsoever,” the lawyer said of other institutions that have put relations with Hoffmann on pause. “Their reactions, whether terminations or suspensions, are completely caused by the announcement by the museum.”

Gotko continued, on behalf of Hoffmann: “He’s obviously very disappointed with the actions taken by those institutions.”

The review by the Jewish Museum is now underway. How it will proceed and on what prospective timeline remains to be known. Asked about the nature of the review—who is involved, what it might entail, how long it could feasibly take—the museum issued a brief statement. “The Jewish Museum is conducting a thorough investigation, in consultation with outside counsel,” it reads. “As this is an ongoing confidential investigation, it would not be appropriate for us to comment.”

Alex Greenberger contributed reporting.

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