Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I have found my Mecca.

Every year thousands of pilgrims make their way to their holy lands: Jews to Israel, Muslims to Mecca...and now book lovers to Buenos Aires.

The city which has been named the 2011 World Book Capital has built a beautiful 25 metre high installation of over 30,000 books donated from libraries, readers and more than 50 embassies.

Called the "Tower of Babel" it stretches for seven floors and visitors to the tower climb its interior scaffolding while listening to music composed by creator, Argentine artist Martaor Minujin, and her voice artist repeating the word 'book' in scores of languages.

Minujin, who worked with American artist Andy Warhol, built a full-scale model of the Parthenon in Buenos Aires in 1983 using books banned by the military dictatorship that ended that year.

This year's installation marks Buenos Aires' naming as the 2011 World Book Capital by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

"We've been laying books for 10 days straight," Sebastian Atienza, 26, who works for the company that built the tower under Minujin's supervision. "But it's worth it. It's where all languages come together."

Within the tour, Japanese children's books lay alongside adventure tales from Patagonia and Basque translation of Argentina's epic cowboy poem Martin Fierro in an epic salute to literacy.

Sadly, tomorrow is the last day the structure will stand. Deconstruction will begin on May 28 but Minujin said literature lovers will be allowed to come and pick one book each. The remaining books will start a new archive that she has already been dubbed The Library of Babel, the name of a story by Argentina's most famous author, Jorge Luis Borges.

More gorgeous photos here.

I adore everything about this amazing art installation and fervently wish I could have jumped on a plane and seen it myself. Such a pity it couldn't have been a permanent fixture.

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