Listen Hear: Pablo Helguera’s ‘Liberia Donceles’

Librería Donceles is an floating Spanish-language second-hand bookstore created by Pablo Helguera in 2013 that was housed at Listen Hear from August 5 until October 22, 2016. The bookstore, which is comprised of over 6,500 volumes and has travelled to major U.S. cities like New York, Phoenix and Chicago, was created in part to address the lack of literature available to growing Spanish-speaking communities.

Patrons of Librería Donceles are allowed to buy one book each at a price the customer sets. Indeed, the functionality of the installation is what makes it such an interesting work of participatory art. The mere existence of the bookstore confronts ideas of tangibility and the weight of physical presence. Social divides that hide in plain sight are revealed. The nameplate inside each donated book is a reminder of the social history of each item and the thousands of little exchanges and collaborations required to create Librería Donceles in the first place.

Pablo Helguera is a New York-based artist whose practice has addressed issues of memory, ethnography, pedagogy, and the absurd through installation, socially engaged art, sculpture, and performance. Helguera is the recipient of a Creative Capital Grant (2005), a Guggenheim Fellowship (2008), as well as the first International Award for Participatory Art (2011).
See more photos of this project here.