“The Parthenon of Books” by Marta Minujín
The Parthenon of Books 1983 is a project by Marta Minujín in which she reconstructed the classical Greek temple of the Parthenon from the Acropolis in Athens out of books! It came to life in a busy avenue in the artist’s native Buenos Aires.
The Parthenon of Books was built using a tubular structure measuring fifteen metres across, thirty metres long and twelve metres high. To this structure were attached more than 20,000 books, fully covering the columns, frieze and pediments of the temple. Minujín chose books which had been banned during the Argentinian military dictatorship (1976–83), including works by Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, Jean-Paul Sartre, Adam Smith, Ernest Hemingway, Jorge Luis Borges as well as children’s stories including The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The books were donated by more than thirty-five publishing houses, which had been keeping many of them in storage thanks to the coordination of the Argentine Book Chamber.
Minujín’s public project was inaugurated on 19 December 1983 and on 24 December 1983, with the help of two cranes, the structure was lent over to one side, allowing the public to remove the books. Around 12,000 volumes were distributed among those present, while the remaining 8,000 or so were later sent to public libraries. Minujín’s intention was, as she put it, to ‘return the work to the public’
Marta Minujín is planning to recreate the Parthenon of Book in Friedrichsplatz in Kassel only this time the plan is to use 100.000 donated books.
Victoria Noorthoorn, ‘El vértigo de la creación’, in Marta Minujín: Obras 1959–1989, exhibition catalogue, Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires 2011.