An art exhibit in the German town of Kassel is making quite an impact as a towering recreation of the Greek Parthenon sits to tell the story of free speech and the banning of books as it also finds itself planted in a spot that knows the effects of its statement all too well.
Argentine artist Marta Minujín is the woman behind the “Parthenon of Books” installation and enlisted the help of the public to accumulate over 100,000 copies of books that were at one point banned in various regions of the world. Titles such as Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, George Orwell’s 1984 and modern classics like Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code are among the hundreds of books that make up the structure of the “Parthenon of Books”.
If the message itself wasn’t significant enough, the placement of the exhibit in Kassel tells a story of its own. More than 2,000 books by Jewish and Marxist authors were burned by the Nazis on this spot on May 19, 1933, in what was called “Aktion wider den undeutschen Geist” (Campaign against the Un-German Spirit). Later, in 1941, the Fridericianum library was hit by an Allied bombing attack, engulfing an estimated 350,000 books in flames.
Once the exhibit comes to a close, the books will be given a new lease on life as copies of the once banned titles are freely handed out to the public to enjoy.