More than 140 artists and higher-ups from the Documenta 14 quinquennial, which occurred in Athens and Kassel, Germany, last year, sent two letters to Greek officials yesterday. The letters—addressed to Giorgos Kaminis, the mayor of Athens, and Alexis Tsipras, the prime minister of the Hellenic Republic—focus on the case of the LGBTQI+ activist and drag performer Zak Kostopoulos, who was beaten by several men in Athens on September 21. Kostopoulos died on the way to the hospital as a result of his injuries.
“The public killing of Zak Kostopoulos bears strong resemblance to lynching,” the letters to Kaminis and Tsipras, which are available via Google Drive, read. “In order for the currently expanding culture of violence not to prevail, in Greece and elsewhere, ‘society must be defended’—the title of Michel Foucault’s 1975-76 Collège de France lectures is more than pertinent today. It is in this spirit, and in the wake of Zak Kostopoulos’s death, that we urge you . . . to take an unequivocal position against violence.” They note that Kostopoulos’s death comes amid an “increasing number of cases of violence targeting minorities and underprivileged members of society in Greece.”
Among those to have signed the letter are Documenta 14’s artistic director, Adam Szymczyk, and the quinquennial’s former CEO, Annette Kulenkampff, as well as artists Angelo Plessas, Cecilia Vicuña, Hans Haacke, Hiwa K, Ibrahim Mahama, Maria Eichhorn, Michel Auder, Rosalind Nashashibi, Tracey Rose, and Vivian Suter.
In the year since Documenta 14 opened, in both Athens and Kassel, Germany, the quinquennial’s participants and higher-ups have kept busy writing a series of open letters. In September 2017, they defended Documenta 14 amid accusations that it had been financially mismanaged. A second open letter of a similar nature surfaced in December of that year. This past June, they released a missive regarding the beating of Yiannis Boutaris, the mayor of the Greek city Thessaloniki, by right-wing nationalists.