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City of Kassel Launches Fundraising Campaign to Protect Olu Oguibe Obelisk First Shown at Documenta

Olu Oguibe’s obelisk in the Königsplatz.

ARTNEWS

The Art Newspaper reports that officials from the city of Kassel, Germany, have started fundraising efforts to keep the Nigerian artist Olu Oguibe’s 2017 sculptural obelisk Monument to Strangers and Refugees, which made its debut last year as part of the quinquennial exhibition Documenta 14, on view in the city’s Königsplatz square.

The city is looking to raise €600,000 (about $749,000), the price that Oguibe has agreed to sell the work for. The Art Newspaper states that this is the first time an artist has joined in on a fundraising campaign of this nature. The sculpture was created as a “call to action” against discrimination and xenophobia, while additionally functioning as a tribute to victims of war. It also has quite a bit of local resonance: Königsplatz is the site where the writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was refused hospitality service for speaking French to an innkeeper. “The work was designed specifically for Kassel and the public square on which it stands,” Oguibe said in a statement on the obelisk, which is inscribed in four different languages.

Although various artworks featured in Documenta have been acquired since 1977, the city does not have a budget for outdoor art. According to Kassel’s chief culture official, Susanne Völker, the campaign will be active for three months. If the sum has not been met by the campaign’s end, Oguibe will have the choice to sell the piece for the amount of money raised or reject the offer, in which case donors will get their money back.

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