[News] Marta Minujín to Rebuild “The Parthenon of Forbidden Books” at Documenta 14 in Kassel

Argentinian artist Marta Minujín erected El Partenon de libros prohibidos (The Parthenon of Forbidden Books) in 1983, the year her country’s military junta fell. The work was part of a series called La caída de los mitos universals (The Fall of Universal Myths), whereby she appropriated universal symbols by reconstructing them, breaking them into pieces and then redistributing them to the public. The Partenon de libros prohibidos was made using 25,000 books retrieved from locked storage rooms where they were kept by the military, all held together by a steel tube construction. Since the Acropolis of Athens is often considered a symbol of democracy, Minujín’s Partenon perfectly echoes her motto: “Democracy without books is no democracy.”

For Documenta 14 to be held in 2017 in Kassel, the organisation is preparing to rebuild Minujín’s Partenon at the Friedrichsplatz, again using “books that were once forbidden or banned from distribution.” According to The Art Newspaper, 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.”


What is impressive with Minujín’s original Partenon is the sheer number of forbidden books she found that made the construction of a monument of that scale possible. Will Documenta manage to source that many books in 2016? It remains to be seen. The Documenta team is already sourcing books during Frankfurt Book Fair and at its offices in Kassel and Athens. If you’re in Athens and you have forbidden books to donate for the construction of the piece, you can mail them to or drop them off at the addresses below. Please note that you need to print and fill in the mandatory donation form found on their website. Donations will be accepted until mid-December 2016.

documenta 14 at Parko Eleftherias
Athens Municipality Arts Center
Attention: The Parthenon of Books
Leoforos Vasilissis Sofias
GR-11521 Athens

documenta 14 at Polytechnion
Athens School of Fine Arts
Prevelakis Hall
Attention: Parthenon of Books
Patission 42
GR-10682 Athens

Jane Morris, 2016. Documenta to restage Acropolis of banned books. Article on The Art Newspaper online. Accessed 06 Oct 2016. http://theartnewspaper.com/reports/frieze-london-2016/documenta-to-restage-acropolis-of-banned-books/

Pierre Bal-Blanc, Marina Fokidis, Quinn Latimer, Yorgos Makris, Marta Minujín, 2016. What Foundations Have Been Laid for Them: The Building and Burning of Knowledge. Documenta 14 website. Accessed 06 October 2016. http://www.documenta14.de/en/south/29_what_foundations_have_been_laid_for_them_the_building_and_burning_of_knowledge

Photo caption
Copyright Marta Minujín Archive, via Documenta 14

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