Stairway to Heaven

October 25, 2011 | By

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At the start of the Bible, everyone on Earth speaks the same language. This all changes when a group of people decides to build a tower–the Tower of Babel–up to the heavens (Genesis 11).

In retrospect, this was not the most strategic move. God is unhappy with the Tower, and curses the builders by giving them all different languages and scattering them throughout the world.

This past summer, conceptual artist Marta Minujin, a one-time collaborator of Andy Warhol, premiered a new piece, “Tower of Babel“–a literal tower constructed from 30,000 books in downtown Buenos Aires. The books spanned genres, ages, and–of course–languages, from Japanese picture books to English adventure stories to Spanish and Basque poetry.

As a conclusion to the project, the tower was dismantled, and the books were given away–spreading understanding, instead of confusion, across the city. “A hundred years from now,” said Minujin, “people will say there was a Tower of Babel in Argentina–and it didn’t need translation, because art needs no translation.”

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