Artist Aboubakar Fofana’s studio has been attacked for his work Ka touba Farafina yé (Africa Blessing), 2017, which features fifty-four sheep—each representing an African country—dyed different shades of indigo, writes Julia Michalska of the Art Newspaper. Fofana’s piece appears in the Greek section of this year’s Documenta. His Athens studio was vandalized with blue paint, and its windows were smashed. The group responsible for the attack addressed the artist in a blog statement, which read, “You choose to say nothing about [the sheep’s] confinement, nor the massive murders of the industry, and you added to the humiliation [by using them] as objects in the spectacle.”
Fofana stood by his work, saying, “I’m not treating [the sheep] badly. I’m not putting chemicals on them; it’s more like dyeing hair. In my culture, we use indigo and henna to dye hair black.” The work is meant to represent the “tragedy of migration,” with the sheep’s constant search for new pastures as a symbol of people risking everything for a better life. The artist said he was raised to believe that all living things, even plants, are created equal: “Every time we eat, the first thing we do is thank all the living beings who gave their lives to give us energy.”
Of course, this is not the only controversy dogging Documenta 14 of late: Last month an LGBTQI refugee rights group stole a work by Spanish artist Roger Bernat to protest what they perceived as the exploitation of asylum seekers in Greece, while in April, the group Artists Against Evictions published an open letter chastising the exhibition’s organizers for keeping quiet over raids that targeted refugees and over the evictions of artists from the live/work space Villa Zografou in Athens.