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Artist Plans to Recreate the Parthenon With 100,000 Banned Books

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Conceptual artist Marta Minujín is building a life-size replica of the Parthenon, but she’s using banned books instead of marble blocks. As Smithsonian reports, the artist has issued a public call for people to donate 100,000 prohibited titles toward her project. Next spring, the final product will stand in a public square in Kassel, Germany, where Nazis once burned thousands of “un-German” books.

Minujín is creating the large-scale installation for documenta, a global arts exhibition that’s held in Kassel every five years. This year’s title is “documenta 14: Learning From Athens.” Keeping with the theme, the show will kick off in Athens on April 8 and open in Kassel on June 10.

This isn’t the first time Minujín’s work has challenged the repression of knowledge and free speech. In 1983, she created a similar public work, El Partenón de Libros, after Argentina’s military dictatorship fell apart. Made from 20,000 books forbidden by the junta, it stood along a central street in Buenos Aires. Instead of simply dismantling it, Minujín had two cranes tip it sideways and instructed onlookers to collect and keep the books.

Minujín's new Parthenon will be larger and more ambitious than her last. It will also recall a different political injustice—when German Nazis burned around 2000 books on May 19, 1933, during the “Aktion wider den undeutschen Geist” (Campaign against the Un-German Spirit).

Still, the underlying theme remains the same. Like the original 1983 work, Minujín's new Parthenon will set “an example against violence, discrimination, and intolerance,” said Adam Szymczyk, artistic director of documenta 14, in a press statement quoted by the American Library Association.

The new Parthenon of banned books will go on display in Athens on June 10, 2017. After 100 days, it will be dismantled, and the books distributed among onlookers. Want to contribute a title? Documenta 14 posted instructions online for donating once or currently banned works.

[h/t Smithsonian]

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Ape Meets Girl
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Pop Culture
Epic Gremlins Poster Contains More Than 80 References to Classic Movies
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Ape Meets Girl

It’s easy to see why Gremlins (1984) appeals to movie nerds. Executive produced by Steven Spielberg and written by Chris Columbus, the film has horror, humor, and awesome 1980s special effects that strike a balance between campy and creepy. Perhaps it’s the movie’s status as a pop culture treasure that inspired artist Kevin Wilson to make it the center of his epic hidden-image puzzle of movie references.

According to io9, Wilson, who works under the pseudonym Ape Meets Girl, has hidden 84 nods to different movies in this Gremlins poster. The scene is taken from the movie’s opening, when Randall enters a shop in Chinatown looking for a gift for his son and leaves with a mysterious creature. Like in the film, Mr. Wing’s shop in the poster is filled with mysterious artifacts, but look closely and you’ll find some objects that look familiar. Tucked onto the bottom shelf is a Chucky doll from Child’s Play (1988); above Randall’s head is a plank of wood from the Orca ship made famous by Jaws (1975); behind Mr. Wing’s counter, which is draped with a rug from The Shining’s (1980) Overlook Hotel, is the painting of Vigo the Carpathian from Ghostbusters II (1989). The poster was released by the Hero Complex Gallery at New York Comic Con earlier this month.

“Early on, myself and HCG had talked about having a few '80s Easter Eggs, but as we started making a list it got longer and longer,” Wilson told Mental Floss. “It soon expanded from '80s to any prop or McGuffin that would fit the curio shop setting. I had to stop somewhere so I stopped at 84, the year Gremlins was released. Since then I’ve thought of dozens more I wish I’d included.”

The ambitious artwork has already sold out, but fortunately cinema buffs can take as much time as they like scouring the poster from their computers. Once you think you’ve found all the references you can possibly find, you can check out Wilson’s key below to see what you missed (and yes, he already knows No. 1 should be Clash of the Titans [1981], not Jason and the Argonauts [1963]). For more pop culture-inspired art, follow Ape Meets Girl on Facebook and Instagram.

Key for hidden image puzzle.
Ape Meets Girl

[h/t io9]

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Kehinde Wiley Studio, Inc., Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
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presidents
Barack Obama Taps Kehinde Wiley to Paint His Official Presidential Portrait
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Kehinde Wiley
Kehinde Wiley Studio, Inc., Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Kehinde Wiley, an American artist known for his grand portraits of African-American subjects, has painted Michael Jackson, Ice-T, and The Notorious B.I.G. in his work. Now the artist will have the honor of adding Barack Obama to that list. According to the Smithsonian, the former president has selected Wiley to paint his official presidential portrait, which will hang in the National Portrait Gallery.

Wiley’s portraits typically depict black people in powerful poses. Sometimes he models his work after classic paintings, as was the case with "Napoleon Leading the Army Over the Alps.” The subjects are often dressed in hip-hop-style clothing and placed against decorative backdrops.

Portrait by Kehinde Wiley
"Le Roi a la Chasse"
Kehinde Wiley, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0

Smithsonian also announced that Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald has been chosen by former first lady Michelle Obama to paint her portrait for the gallery. Like Wiley, Sherald uses her work to challenge stereotypes of African-Americans in art.

“The Portrait Gallery is absolutely delighted that Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald have agreed to create the official portraits of our former president and first lady,” Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery, said in a press release. “Both have achieved enormous success as artists, but even more, they make art that reflects the power and potential of portraiture in the 21st century.”

The tradition of the president and first lady posing for portraits for the National Portrait Gallery dates back to George H.W. Bush. Both Wiley’s and Sherald’s pieces will be revealed in early 2018 as permanent additions to the gallery in Washington, D.C.

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