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07/11/2018 | Porträts und Geschichten

"Accompanying the creation of the Parthenon was a great enrichment".

Sophia Neitzel on her involvement in the artwork.

Portrait photo Sophia NeitzelImage: Andreas Fischer
Sophia Neitzel

"It is the work of art that has shaped the image of documenta 14 like no other: Marta Minujín's "Parthenon of Books," the temple made of forbidden books on Kassel's Friedrichsplatz. I was able to contribute a little to the success of this project. I was part of a student working group that compiled a list of banned literature under the direction of Prof. Dr. Nikola Roßbach and visiting professor Dr. Florian Gassner from Vancouver. In the end, the document included more than 120,000 works from around the world and formed the basis for Minujín's artistic work.

In September 2016 - nine months before the opening of documenta 14 - German studies professor Dr. Nikola Roßbach presented her ambitious list project to us. I was immediately enthusiastic. Not only because, as a Kassel resident, I always experience documenta as something special, but also because, as a student of German studies, the topic of censorship fundamentally interests me.

Just a few decades ago, banning literature was part of everyday life in this country, too. Our intensive research showed that. We listed, for example, books that had once been banned by the Catholic Church and those that were on the index under the National Socialists, in the Soviet occupation zone and in the later GDR. Our collection was expanded by research abroad: In Turkey, for example, censorship is more topical than ever right now. But our work, which took place in close coordination with the documenta team, did not end with the creation of the literature list. We checked every book donation for the Parthenon against the titles we had researched. If the book was not on the list, an individual research was carried out - and, if necessary, the document was supplemented by the respective title. This was often tedious and time-consuming, but it was worth it in every case.

I found the creation of this impressive work of art very enriching. Just like the encounter with the artist herself: At the end of documenta 14, we met Marta Minujín in person and walked with her through the Parthenon. A beautiful conclusion to our mammoth project."