The Parthenon of Books

This weekend, the second half of Documenta 14, entitled “Learning from Athens,” opens in Kassel, Germany following the exhibits in Athens, Greece, which have been on view since April. One of the highlights will be the installation of Marta Minujin’s “The Parthenon of Books” on the Friedrichsplatz opposite the Fridericianum, a recreation of her 1983 “El Partenón de libros” shown in Buenos Aires.

The books came from a public call last October to donate nearly 100,000 formerly or currently banned books from all over the world. At the end of the exhibition, the books will be removed and given to visitors, returning them to circulation.

Minujin’s installation commemorates the 2,000 books that were burned by the Nazis at this location in Kassel on May 19, 1933, during the so-called “Aktion wider den undeutschen Geist” (Campaign against the Un-German Spirit). Press information reminds us also that “in 1941, the Fridericianum—which was being used as a library at the time—was engulfed in flames during an Allied bombing attack, and another collection of about 350,000 books was lost.” The list of forbidden books was compiled in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Nikola Roßbach, guest professor Dr. Florian Gassner, and students of the University of Kassel.

Several other works focus on books, including Maria Eichhorn’s installation of books stolen from Jewish collections, still held in the state libraries of Berlin.