European Exhibition Features Parthenon Replica Built From Banned Books

13 June 2017
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Kassel, Germany is now home to a Greek temple-inspired artwork that pays homage to free speech instead of the gods: As The Local Germany reports, the installation by conceptual artist Marta Minujín is built from 100,000 banned books, and is intended to challenge censorship both past and present.

Every five years, the city of Kassel, Germany becomes an art world hotspot when documenta—the international arts exhibition created by German artist and professor Arnold Bode in 1955—comes to town. Originally, documenta featured artworks banned by the Nazis, but over the years, it’s evolved into one of the world’s most important exhibitions for modern and contemporary art, according to mentalfloss.

Now, in its 14th iteration, documenta is back and open until Sunday, September 17. As we previously reported, the two-part show kicked off in Athens on April 8 to mark this year’s theme, “Learning from Athens,” and premiered in Kassel on June 10. One of its most visible—and political—artworks is Minujín’s “Parthenon of Books,” which stands in the public square where Nazis once burned thousands of “un-German” books during the Aktion wider den undeutschen Geist (Campaign against the Un-German Spirit).

Built in the exact same dimensions as the real-life Parthenon, the structure’s metal grill columns contains hundreds of titles, including the Bible, Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses (1988), and Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), each one wrapped in plastic to protect their pages from the elements. Lodged into place by volunteers on cranes, the works will be distributed to visitors once the artwork is dismantled.

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