The beauty of art is that it can take different forms, which Martha Minujin has done with her Parthenon of 100,000 books. The Argentine artist is known for her unique artworks and what she has been able to put together in Kassel Germany is attracting the interest of local and international art lovers.
The Book Burning Site
During the height of the Nazi reign in Germany, the Reich, in its bid to control the flow of information in the country, banned the publication and distribution of certain books that encouraged freedom of thought and expression.
One way it did this was to burn books it classed as forbidden. One of the sites used for book burning was the Parthenon in the city of Athens. Harking back to the past, Martha Minujin has brought the past back to life with her latest creation.
A stance against State-Sponsored Censorship
The underlying symbol of Martha’s art is a stance against censorship. She used thousands of books banned by the Nazis in Greece to construct a replica of the book burning site in Athens.
The art structure is similar to the medieval Greek temple, which remains a symbolic icon of democracy in Athens. Her scaffolding in Kassel has the same features as the temple, but rather than stone and mortar, the temple is covered by books and held together by plastic and glue.
Sourcing the books was not done by her alone, neither were they bought. Instead, the books were donated by the public from among a shortlist of titles of more than 170 literature titles that were formerly prohibited or books that are still under prohibition.
Friedrichsplatz Park is the site in Kassel where the Parthenon of Books temple stands. This site is quite significant in German history because it was the site where about 2000 books were burnt by the Nazis in 1933. Martha’s art is the latest installation of artworks to feature in this year’s Kassel Documenta 14 festival of art.
Kassel is a city north of Hesse state in North Central Germany. The city asked artists to explore the relationship between Kassel and Athens, which happens to be the partnering city for the festival, and many artists responded to the call, including Martha Minujin.
There is a Replica in Athens
The Parthenon of Books in Kassel is not the only one created by the artist. In her native Argentina, she created a similar structure in Buenos Aires. She chose books that were banned by the Argentine junta between 1976 and 1983.
The Parthenon opened a week after democracy was restored to Argentina on December 19, 1983. Seven days later, it was toppled, and the public was allowed to pick whichever book they wanted.
The city of Kassel is planning a similar book distribution though there is no confirmation about when and how the distribution will take place. Martha hopes that her work will serve as inspiration to democratic freedom fighters as well as cast a light on the dangers of censorship that still exists in many parts of the globe today.
Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of The Sized delivered to your inbox daily.