Kasper König “aggressive” immigrant comments criticised

Kasper König

Kasper König, the German curator and founder of Skulptur Projekte Münster, has become embroiled in a race row after comments he made about the Turkish migrant and second generation community in Germany.

König was hosting a panel discussion at the Municipal Theater in Munich with artists Henrike Naumann, Wilhelm Klotzek, and Cana Bilir-Meier, a German artist of Turkish descent, to discuss the rise of the far-right in Germany and across Europe. Bilir-Meier said she was particularly distressed when the conversation turned to immigration and König described Turkish-Germans as “aggressive”. In a translation from the German made by Hyperallergic, the curator said:

‘Those guys [German-Turks], all have these fancy, matte-coated cars, they drive around with a kind of aggression like assholes. All the while the women have to sit outside, smoking [gesturing shisha] Well … [Quoting imaginary Turkish car owners] ‘That is then … Our territory!’ But, that can’t really can’t be true. With what kind of aggression! One kind of aggression simply leads to the other. But in this case, like in Kreuzberg, where tourists walk around and actually find this all of this chic, because, that is so to say, a multicultural extreme. And, having lived many years in New York, I would say that something just isn’t right there. There is an attitude constructed in opposition to each other, which in no way binds a sense of society.’ 

In a Facebook post Bilir-Meier said she found the experience 'horrible, full of toxic masculinity, racism and violent power'. She went on to allege that König had told her prior to the event that she had only won the 2019 ars viva Prize because her name was 'exotic'. The Munich theatre also took to Facebook to apologise for ‘statements made by the host, which can be understood as degrading in particular to migrants’. An open letter from a group of artist identifying as ‘Migrant/Black/Indigenous/Lesbian/Queer/Trans* Artists of Color’ decried the comments. The theatre says that König has apologised to Bilir-Meier.

17 December 2018