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The Parthenon of Books

A project by Marta Minujín

Decisive symbol of resistance to any banning of writings and the persecution of their authors, The Parthenon of Books is a replica of the temple on the Acropolis in Athens, symbolizing the aesthetic and political ideas of the first democracy. The installation by the conceptual artist Marta Minujín — born 1943 in Buenos Aires, Argentina — is part of the Documenta 14 art festival, in Kassel, Germany, on a space where 2,000 books were burned by the Nazis as part of the so-called “Action against the Un-German Spirit”.

Working with students from Kassel University, Marta identified 170 books from around the world that were at one point banned or are banned in some countries while circulating freely in others. The public was then asked to donate these texts, which were wrapped in protective plastic and hung from the structure.

Marta first realized the piece in 1983, when she erected 25,000 books banned by Argentina’s military junta in a square in Buenos Aires. The new incarnation has been under construction since October 2016 — with the official opening in June 2017 — and is made of 100,000 books. It’s possible for visitors to become part of the artwork by checking the list of banned books and bringing along a text for inclusion in the work, which will be on display until September.

With her Parthenon, Marta just asks us to consider the role of politics in attempting to influence thought.

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