Climbing the Tower of Babel

Written by Leila Barzegar
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I had seen pictures and done some research, but as I exited the Subte stop at San Martín and looked directly in front of me, I was in total awe.  The Tower of Babel stands 82 feet high, draped with 30,000 books donated by readers, libraries, and more than 50 embassies worldwide.  Argentine artist Marta Minujin designed the installation to celebrate the naming of Buenos Aires as the 2011 World Book Capital by the United Nations Educational, Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Sadly, the exhibit ends Saturday the 28, but Minujin said literature lovers will be allowed to come and pick one book from the Tower of Babel to take with them. After a wait in line, I began to climb up the seven floors of the tower. 

On all sides of me were books ranging from all different languages and subjects: from Chinese bedtime stories, to European art lookbooks to the greatest Irish speeches of all time.  I was in a completely different world when all of a sudden I started hearing words I didn’t understand.  I listened closer and still had no idea. A guide told me the words were a recording of Minujin repeating the word “book” in various different languages. I had never experienced that kind of interactive art before and became extremely appreciative of the power of books and language.  It’s important that as humans we acknowledge and celebrate our differences, whether it’s the difference in language or any other matter. 

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