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The Parthenon of Books

The Argentinian Embassy is promoting Marta Minujín’s newest creation

June 15th, 2017
Raquel Alberto de la Fuente, News from Berlin

The Argentinian Embassy in Berlin is promoting Argentinian artist Marta Minujín’s newest creation. “Documenta”, a world-renowned contemporary art exhibition founded in 1955, will be showcasing Minujín’s emblematic work during its 14th edition of the program (June 10th - September 17th) in Kassel, Germany.

Arnold Bode, Documenta’s creator, envisioned his project as an opportunity to bring people and art closer together. He believed his peculiar concept of artistic exchange could serve as a vehicle for furthering society’s cultural and artistic understanding. Therefore, as of 1955, a new artist is selected every 5 years to create and display their art work in the streets of Kassel.

Past exhibitions are known for not being confined to designated spaces, but rather assimilated throughout the city. Some of these works of art, despite sparking initial controversy amongst citizens, have remained a part of the city’s landscape.

This year’s spotlight shines on Argentinian artist Marta Minujín. With a length of 70m, a width of 30m, and a height of 19m; her creation stretches across a total area of 2100 square meters. The artist’s so-called “Parthenon of Books” is composed of an ensemble of 100.000 books, which forge a monumental architectural structure that imposes over the city of Kassel.

This structure, however, is much more that a form of showcasing artistic or architectural grandiosity; for the books that erect the monument are books which have been censored at some point in history; and the spot in which it stands is the land in which the Nazis recklessly burnt over 2000 books on May 19th 1933. Minujín’s project symbolizes the notion that from the ashes of something great, will arise something greater.

By developing her creation in historically relevant grounds and by utilizing German history to emphasize the relevance of the censorship issue, Minujín is allowing the German society to show the extent to which German ideology has shifted since WWII, from a literary restrictive nation to an all-embracing one.

Even though Minujín understands her art as an ephemeral element which must eventually evanesce, she wishes to continue the legacy of her work by spreading the philosophy behind it. Therefore, once her display is finalized, she aims to redistribute the books to both refugee camps and libraries across Europe in hopes of expanding society’s understanding on the harmful effects of censorship.

Not only will Marta Minujín be remembered for her truly original artistic vision, but most importantly for her ability to utilize societies’ shared experience with censorship to unite people from all cultures and contexts.


News from Berlin