“I WAS A STRANGER AND YOU TOOK ME IN.” The Future of Olu Oguibe’s Documenta 14 Monument in Kassel Remains Uncertain

One of the most striking and thought-provoking pieces exhibited at Documenta 14 in Kassel, Germany was Olu Oguibe’s monumental obelisk piece titled Das Fremdlinge und Fluchtlinge Monument, which translates to Monument for Strangers and Refugees’. Written in four different languages – English, German, Turkish and Arab – and engraved on all sides of the piece that stands over 50 feet tall, is an excerpt culled from the Book of Matthew, “I WAS A STRANGER AND YOU TOOK ME IN.” 

Although not without controversies, as Oguibe’s work addresses immigration issues including discrimination and xenophobia, this piece earned him the Arnold Bode Award for Documenta 14, a recognition given with the cash reward of €10,000. Earlier in the year, a fund-raising campaign was launched by the Kassel City council to raise the needed sum to acquire the work.

According to Artnews, the city of Kassel has voted in favour of the piece to be acquired for the sum of €120,000 ($126,000) which is four times lower than Oguibe’s asking price of €600,000 ($695,200). Oguibe only agreed to this sum on the condition that the work remains at the installation point at Konigsplatz square but the city refused, stating that it wants to leave the location open as a possible site for future Documenta exhibitions. “The council has set the end of the month as the deadline for reaching a compromise on the location,” the report states. 

An important and well-timed piece when it was erected in 2017, the obelisk remains relevant in 2018 amidst increasingly disturbing news on refugees and migrants treatment in Europe and the US.  

Olu Oguibe, Das Fremdlinge und Fluchtlinge Monument, 2017, Documenta 14, Königsplatz, Kassel.
Olu Oguibe, Das Fremdlinge und Fluchtlinge Monument, 2017, Documenta 14, Königsplatz, Kassel.

Featured Image: Olu Oguibe’s Das Fremdlinge und Fluchtlinge Monument, 2017. Courtesy The Sole Adventurer.  

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