The Parthenon of Books, 2017. Steel, books, and plastic sheeting. 19.5 × 29.5 × 65.5 m. Commissioned by documenta 14, with support from the Ministry of Media and Culture of Argentina.
South American conceptual artist Marta Minujín has just installed a towering new architectural installation in Germany called The Parthenon of Books, a scaffold replica of the famous Greek temple clad in 100,000 copies of banned books. The piece is currently on view in Kassel, Germany as part of a 100-day art exhibition called Documenta 14.
Minujín worked with students from Kassel University to identify 170 titles that have been historically banned worldwide by various institutions, and then sought help from the public to obtain donated copies. The books were then wrapped in a protective plastic coating to shield them from the elements while allowing visitors to easily identify each title.
An earlier version of The Parthenon of Books was first installed in 1983, referencing an event in Minujín’s native Argentina where books where confiscated and locked up as part of a military junta. This new iteration rests on a site where Nazis burned books by Jewish and Marxist writers in 1933 as part of a broad campaign of censorship.
The Parthenon of Books will be on view through mid-September and you can see more photos at the Instagram hashtag #parthenonofbooks. (thnx, Alice!)
Spread across the opened pages of books pinned against the wall like insect specimens, artist Ekaterina Panikanova (previously) creates ink paintings that appear like fragments of memory. As with the content of old books, the subjects of each work appear from a different era, engaged in mysterious activities or moments while accompanied by recurring images of lace, layer cakes, animals, and explosions of ink. Occasionally an image is permitted to span several book spreads, but is often interrupted by a new idea that appears to be inserted like a misplaced puzzle piece.
Panikova was born in Russia and now lives and works between between St. Petersburg and Rome. You can see more of her recent work at Z2O Galleria.
Over the last year, photographer Thibaud Poirier has traveled across Europe to photograph some of the world’s most incredible libraries. The series includes both historic and contemporary libraries with a special emphasis on the varied designs employed by architects. Poirier captured each image when the buildings were closed and empty of people to focus entirely on structure and layout. From his statement about the project:
Like fingerprints, each architect crafted his vision for a new space for this sacred self-exploration. These seemingly minute details are everywhere, from the balance of natural and artificial light to optimise reading yet preserve ancient texts to the selective use of studying tables to either foster community or encourage lonely reflection. The selection of these libraries that span space, time, style and cultures were carefully selected for each one’s unique ambiance and architectural contribution.
So far Poirier has photographed 25 libraries and says he intends to add to the series as time permits. If you liked this, also check out his Berlin Interiors series.
Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, Paris, 1850
Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Salle Labrouste, Paris, 1868
Bibliothèque de l’Hotel de Ville de Paris, Paris, 1890
Grimm Zentrum Library, Berlin, 2009
Stadtbibliothek, Stuttgart, 2011
Bibliothèque de la Sorbonne, Salle Jacqueline de Romilly, Paris, 1897
When thinking of a symbolic foe to battle in a medieval book, many creatures come to mind: dragons, wolves, or perhaps rabbits, but the poor defenseless snail? It hardly makes for a powerful image. But it turns out, as with most artwork, the answer is more symbolic than literal. In the 1960s a book historian named Lilian Randall thought the illustrations found in the margins of illuminated books required more attention, leading to the publication of her own book, Images in the Margins of Gothic Manuscripts. In this episode of Vox Almanac, Phil Edwards shares what Randall learned as she investigated the curious snail fights.
Copenhagen-based artist Johan Deckmann examines the complications of life through clever titles painted on the covers of fictional self-help books that appear to tackle life’s biggest questions, fears, and absurdities. A practicing psychotherapist himself, Deckmann thoroughly recognizes the power of language in therapy and possesses a keen ability to translate his discoveries into witty phrases. “I like the idea of distilling words to compress information, feelings or fantasies into an essence, a truth,” he shares. “The right words can be like good medicine.”
Deckmann often takes his pieces beyond simple language and into the realm of visual puns, such as an LP cover titled “The very best of the voices inside my head” or the juxtaposition of smaller and larger suitcases labeled “Baggage” and “Emotional Baggage.” All of the pieces have the faded color and worn texture of 1970s era self-help guides that were popular at the time.
Deckmann’s books have been exhibited around the world since he began the series in 2015, including a solo show last March at Andenken Gallery in Amsterdam. You can follow more of his recent work on Facebook, and on his website.
The Klencke Atlas published in 1660 is one of the most famous objects in the British Library's cartographic collection, a towering book that stands nearly 6 feet tall and reaches over seven feet wide when open. For over three centuries the atlas was the largest in existence, surpassed only five years ago by Millennium House's gigantic publication Earth Platinum.
The collection of maps was named after Johannes Klencke (1620-1672), the leader of a collection of Dutch sugar merchants who presented the atlas to Charles II as a hope to gain favorable trade agreements with Britain. The object was subsequently placed amongst the king’s most prized possessions, and stayed tied to royalty for the next 150 years.
“The Klencke atlas is important both in itself, and for its constituent parts,” said Tom Harper, lead curator of antiquarian maps at the British Library in an article about the atlas. “As an object, its scale and conception recalled Renaissance ideas relating to the symbolic power of a book which contained the entire world’s knowledge. It would have provided Charles with intellectual authority, an authority which enforces its intimidating presence even today.”
The Klencke Atlas went on public view in 2010 after considerable restoration, and was digitized by the British Library just last month. It took several hands to transport and mount the ancient work onto an XXXL book stand for high resolution photography, and digitization took several days in order to capture each of the included maps. You can view this online version of the atlas on the British Library’s website, and watch a time-lapse video of the digitization process supported by Daniel Crouch Rare Books. (via Hyperallergic)