“Deutschland 8: German Art in China,” a sister exhibition to “China 8”—the 2015 showcase of contemporary Chinese art exhibited across nine museums in Germany’s Ruhr Valley—has now opened in seven venues in Beijing. This cross-cultural exchange, however, has engendered dissent: On September 17, six of the fifty-five artists in the show—Rosemarie Trockel, Antje Ehmann, Clemens von Wedemeyer, Julian Rosefeldt, Marcel Odenbach, Hito Steyerl, and the estate of Harun Farocki—wrote a letter to Walter Smerling, one of the show’s curators, protesting the exhibition’s sponsorship by Rheinmetall, a German arms manufacturer. They are concerned that their work is being implemented to “[enhance] the image of such corporations,” writes Alice Dingle of Art Asia Pacific.
The artists claim that several of Rheinmetall’s branches produce arms that have been purchased by armies “deployed in actual war zones such as Yemen.” They also allege that the company’s subsidiaries have built weapons factories in war-torn areas.
Bonn’s Foundation for Art and Culture, which organized the exhibition with Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts, is planning on hosting a public debate to discuss Rheinmetall’s support of the show. A date for the event has yet to be announced.