Documenta to restage Acropolis of banned books

Work by Marta Minujín was originally shown shortly after the collapse of Argentina's dictatorship in the 1980s


A huge replica of the Acropolis in Athens, made from 100,000 banned books, will rise in the Friedrichsplatz in Kassel, Germany, next year, as part of Documenta 14 (Athens, 8 April-16 July; Kassel, 10 June-17 September 2017). The work is a restaging of The Parthenon of Books by the Argentine artist Marta Minujín, who created the piece in Buenos Aires in 1983, shortly after the collapse of the country’s dictatorship.

The installation will include books that remain censored in some territories and volumes that have recently been reissued after bans. The Friedrichsplatz has been chosen because it was the site of pro-Nazi book burnings in 1933 and because of its proximity to the Fridericianum, the great library and museum founded in 1779. During an Allied bombing attack in 1941, 350,000 books were destroyed.

Documenta staff will be gathering books for the project at Frankfurt Book Fair this month (19-23 October), and the public is invited to donate books towards the project by either dropping them off or mailing them to the organisers' offices in Kassel and Athens. The work will set the tone for what is likely to be a highly political exhibition. Adam Szymczyk, Documenta’s director, says: “Censorship, the persecution of writers, and the prohibition of their texts motivated by political interests and attempting to influence our thoughts, our ideas, and our bodies, are once again widespread today. The Parthenon of Books sets an example against violence, discrimination, and intolerance.”