Archive: Kassel
Monument on notorious Nazi book-burning location

Monument on notorious Nazi book-burning location

Marta Minujín - The Parthenon of Books, 2017, Friedrichsplatz Kassel, documenta 14, Photo- Roman März 1
Marta MinujinThe Parthenon of Books, 2017, documenta 14, Friedrichsplatz Kassel, Germany
Photo: Roman März

In the 1930s and 1940s in Nazi Germany, the government banned thousands of books which had been written by authors of Jewish descent or writers that had previously shown communist or pacifist alliances. Decades later, a monument has been created to commemorate the censored books under the guidance of Argentine artist Marta Minujin. The monument is designed to look like the full-scale replica of the Parthenon in Athens, which has become one of the world’s most visited monuments.

The enormous sculpture is situated in Germany and was created entirely out of censored contemporary books. The symbolism of the monument is striking as it was created to contrast political repressions. The monument was also created to symbolize the aesthetic and political ideal of the world’s first democracy which was situated in Greece.

The Parthenon of Books was created as part of the documenta art festival in Kassel, Germany, which is now in its 14th year this year. The documenta was first established in 1955 in a bid to support German contemporary artists, who were often unable to create art as a result of restrictive Nazi policies. Minujin used a total 100,000 books to create the monument.

The novels and books used to complete the Parthenon were secured to the steel structure using plastic sheeting, which protects them from the natural elements while allowing natural sunlight to filter through the massive building. The monument is located on the same site where thousands of books were burned in the Nazi inspired campaign; therefore, the site has a lot of significance for the locals of the city of Kassel as well as for everyone that was affected by the Nazi Campaign.

Although a lot of work has gone into the creation of the monument, the exhibition is only temporary and will last through September. When the exhibition comes to a close, the books will be taken down after which they will be distributed all over the world. So far, the Parthenon of Books has been received well by both locals and the contemporary art community.

The 74-year-old Argentinean artist was central to the creation of the monument; however, she received help from students from Kassel University. The project started with 170 books; but after a public appeal the artists received donations, which resulted in the gathering of 100,000 copies, which were incorporated into the monument. Some of the books included in the collection include Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Cecily von Ziegesar’s Gossip Girl, Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, and much more.

Marta Minujín - The Parthenon of Books, 2017, Friedrichsplatz Kassel, documenta 14, Photo- Roman März
Marta MinujinThe Parthenon of Books, 2017, documenta 14, Friedrichsplatz Kassel, Germany
Photo: Roman März

Marta Minujín - The Parthenon of Books, 2017, Friedrichsplatz Kassel, documenta 14, Photo- Roman März
Marta MinujinThe Parthenon of Books, 2017, documenta 14, Friedrichsplatz Kassel, Germany
Photo: Roman März

Marta Minujín - The Parthenon of Books, 2017, Friedrichsplatz Kassel, documenta 14, Photo- Roman März
Marta MinujinThe Parthenon of Books, 2017, documenta 14, Friedrichsplatz Kassel, Germany
Photo: Roman März

Marta Minujín - The Parthenon of Books, 2017, Friedrichsplatz Kassel, documenta 14, Photo- dpa
Marta MinujinThe Parthenon of Books, 2017, documenta 14, Friedrichsplatz Kassel, Germany
Photo: dpa

Marta Minujín - The Parthenon of Books, 2017, Friedrichsplatz Kassel, documenta 14, Photo AP Photo-Jens Mayer-
Marta MinujinThe Parthenon of Books, 2017, documenta 14, Friedrichsplatz Kassel, Germany
Photo: AP / Jens Mayer

Marta Minujín - Preparation of The Parthenon of Books, 2017, Friedrichsplatz Kassel, documenta 14, 3
Marta Minujin – Preparation of The Parthenon of Books, 2017, documenta 14, Friedrichsplatz Kassel, Germany

Marta Minujín - Preparation of The Parthenon of Books, 2017, Friedrichsplatz Kassel, documenta 14, 1
Marta Minujin – Preparation of The Parthenon of Books, 2017, documenta 14, Friedrichsplatz Kassel, Germany

Marta Minujín - Preparation of The Parthenon of Books, 2017, Friedrichsplatz Kassel, documenta 14, 2Marta Minujin – Preparation of The Parthenon of Books, 2017, documenta 14, Friedrichsplatz Kassel, Germany


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Thai artist fails miserably, or did he not?

Thai artist fails miserably, or did he not?

Sakarin Krue-on -  Terraced Rice Fields, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12
Sakarin Krue-OnTerraced Rice Fields, rice field, ca. 3600sqm, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12, 2007

In 2007 Thai artist Sakarin Krue-On attempted to transform the park in front of a castle in Kassel, Germany into a 3.600sqm terraced rice field. For this project Krue-On and his Thai team tried to dispense the use of machines as much as possible, while relying on traditional methods, using simple devices such as spades, forks and hooks.

The clash of cultures, impressively shown through the contrast of the Wilhelmshöhe Castle and the field, is a key element of this work: On the one hand the majestic piece of European architecture, symbolizing status and power, embodying Western provenance, and right beneath, Thai workers using ancient methods to cultivate rice fields. Terraced Rice Field can also be seen as a representation of growth and collaboration. Pulling off documenta 12’s biggest work, an art event which drew 754,000 paying visitors, required an immense amount of negotiation and communication, in which different working methods met in the planning process. This is another major component of the artwork: Collective cooperation in which traditional knowledge meets scientific expertise.

This site-specific project was the first time that wet rice open air terraces were cultivated in outside fields in Germany. Unfortunately, the majority of the terraces couldn’t hold the water; regardless of what amount got added, it kept trickling away, and the work on project ultimately got stopped due to security concerns. However, more importantly than successfully growing crops, Krue-On managed to bring together people from all walks to life, transcending barriers by working next to each other.

Kassel Schloss Wilhelmshoehe photo dontworry
Sakarin Krue-OnTerraced Rice Fields, rice field, ca. 3600sqm, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12, 2007

Sakarin Krue-on -  Terraced Rice Fields, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12
Sakarin Krue-OnTerraced Rice Fields, rice field, ca. 3600sqm, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12, 2007

Sakarin Krue-on -  Terraced Rice Fields, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12
Sakarin Krue-OnTerraced Rice Fields, rice field, ca. 3600sqm, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12, 2007

Sakarin Krue-on -  Terraced Rice Fields, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12

Sakarin Krue-on -  Terraced Rice Fields, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12
Sakarin Krue-OnTerraced Rice Fields, rice field, ca. 3600sqm, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12, 2007

Sakarin Krue-on -  Terraced Rice Fields, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12
Sakarin Krue-OnTerraced Rice Fields, rice field, ca. 3600sqm, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12, 2007

Sakarin Krue-on -  Terraced Rice Fields, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12
Sakarin Krue-OnTerraced Rice Fields, rice field, ca. 3600sqm, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12, 2007

Sakarin Krue-on - Terraced Rice Fields, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12 9
Sakarin Krue-On with photo of Terraced Rice Fields, rice field, ca. 3600sqm, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12, 2007


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Lida Abdul seducing her audience with a defiant flag in the water

Lida Abdul seducing her audience with a defiant flag in the water

Lida Abdul - What we have overlooked

Lida Abdul - What we have overlooked
Lida Abdul, still from What We Have Overlooked, 2011, 16mm film, 3.44 min, 2 channel video installation

Lida Abdul’s two-channel work entitled What we have overlooked (2011) was first presented at dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel. She is an Afghan video and performance artist born in 1973 in Kabul. Forced to flee Afghanistan following the Russian invasion and the war that followed, Abdul lived as a refugee in Germany and India before settling in the US.

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Public Delivery

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