Marta Minujín    Big Ben Lying Down with Political Books

Marta Minujín photographed in her exhibition Implosión!, Buenos Aires, 2021. Photograph by Alvaro Rufiner. Courtesy Marta Minujín Archives.



Argentinian artist Marta Minujín is a pioneer and legendary art icon. She is celebrated for her monumental sculptures, participatory artworks and performances. These include “La caída de los mitos universales” or “The Fall of Universal Myths her series begun in 1978 of large-scale ‘tilting’ and ‘fallen’ recreations of popular monuments or cultural myths.


Marta Minujín was born in 1943 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she lives and works. Over sixty years, she has pioneered happenings, performances, installations, and video works that have greatly influenced generations of contemporary artists in Latin America and beyond. Her simultaneously monumental and ephemeral works continue to inspire awe and surprise. She studied at the Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes Manuel Belgrano and the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes Prilidiano Pueyrredón Buenos Aires. In 1961, she received a scholarship to study in Paris, where she carried out her first performance, La destrucción (The Destruction), in 1963. Returning to Buenos Aires in 1964, she was awarded the Premio Nacional Instituto Torcuato Di Tella for the work ¡Revuélquese y viva! (Wallow around and live!, 1964), her first interactive installation. In 1965, at the Center of Visual Arts of the Instituto Torcuato di Tella in Buenos Aires, Minujín and Rubén Santantonín devised the now-legendary environment La Menesunda. The work led visitors on a circuitous journey through eleven distinct spaces inspired by everyday life in Buenos Aires, including a tunnel of luminous neon signs, a bedroom complete with a married couple, a hallway lined with illuminated TVs, and a salon with makeup artists and masseuses offering their services. This intricate, interactive labyrinth was visited by thousands of people. Minujín received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1966. During the 1970s, she lived between the United States and Argentina, exhibiting her work in major institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1973), and Centro de Arte y Comunicación, Buenos Aires (1975, 1976). In 1978 she exhibited Obelisco Acostado, the first of her large-scale participatory sculpture series La Caida De Los Mitos Universales/The Fall of Universal Myths. A retrospective of Minujín’s work was presented at the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires in 2010, and her work has been included at the New Museum, New York (2019), documenta 14, Kassel (2017), and in exhibitions at Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2017); Tate Modern, London (2015); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2015); Centre Pompidou, Paris (2001); and elsewhere. In 2022/2023 Tate Liverpool will stage La Menesunda.


Marta Minujín wants to thank Phoebe Greenwood, Kwong Lee, Mauro Herlitzka, Gabriela Rangel, Chris Clay, Camila Charask, Neil Gidley, James Wreford, Salvador Gómez Minujín and Jo Barratt without whose collaboration, this project could not have been achieved. Marta Minujín is also grateful towards to Emilia van Raap, Sofia Jones, Paz Lucero, Guido Martin Della Bells, Renzo Polzella and Alexis Burke.


Big Ben Lying Down with Political Books is conceived and created by
Marta Minujín for MIF21

with support from:

Argentine Ministry of Culture:
Tristan Bauer, Argentine Minister of Culture.
Valeria Gonzalez, Argentine Secretary of Cultural Heritage.

Embassy of Argentine Republic in the United Kingdom and Great Britain and Northern Ireland:
Javier Estaban Figueroa, Argentine Ambassador.
Alessandra Viggiano Marra, Argentine Cultural Attaché.

Mauro Herlitzka, Herlitzka + Faria Gallery
Camila Charask, Project Assistant to Marta Minujín

Film and Audio created in collaboration with:
James Wreford, Maeve Brennan, Dan Ward Black Shuck Film Collective
Jo Barratt Sound Designer
Mark Macey and Emma Gibbs, BBC Archives
Website created by Owls Department


Book list coalition
Hafsah Bashir and Safina Islam, Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Education Trust
Andrew Biswell, Anthony Burgess Foundation
Zoe Williams, Manchester City Council
Gareth Redstone, Manchester Jewish Museum
Arlene Lomax & Matilda Llewellyn Lomax, Lorraine Ballantine, MIF's People’s Forum
Breb Lynch, MIF's Young People’s Forum:
Katy Ashton, People’s History Museum
John Hodgson, The John Rylands Research Institute and Library
Ruth Colton, The Pankhurst Trust
Carl Death, Daniel Silver and Birte Vogel, University of Manchester
Circle Steele, Wai Yin Society
Lynette Cawthra, Working Class Movement Library

Advice and research from Blackwell’s
Katharine Fry, Phil Henderson, David Prescott and Paul Thornton

Books donations and sponsorship
Gulnaz Brennan
Louise Edwards Carol Packham
Bloomsbury Publishing
Bonnier Books UK
Burning Eye Books
Manchester University Press
Ingram Content Group
Faber & Faber
One World Publications
The Orion Publishing Group
Oxford University Press
Pan Macmillan
Penguin Random House
Pluto Press
Profile Books
Simon & Schuster
Stanford University Press
Taylor & Francis Group

Plastics donations and recycling by Berry bpi
Gareth Lloyd, Sian Miles and Jim Morris

Additional creative and technical team:
Neil Gidley
Alec Graham and the team at Splinter
Alexis Burke Director
Rachel Toogood Translator
Faye Williams Translator

MIF volunteers:
Charis Duong, William David McLenachan, Zoia Waszynko, Sylvia Reeves, Helen Randle, Adris Asghar, Gareth Bird, Imelda Carr, Marina Diaz Valenzuela, Sarah Holden, Richard Jones, Victoria Lawrence, Jane Prowse, Graham Stock, Ewa Szafranski, Michael Teo, Paul Thompson, Stephen Timms, Judith Wilson, Christopher Brown, Lee Ashworth, Phil Catling

For Manchester International Festival
John McGrath Artistic Director and Chief Executive
Phoebe Greenwood Curatorial Associate
Kate Mackonochie Director of Producing
Richard Morgan Executive Producer
Kwong Lee Producer
Jack Thompson Technical Director
Chris Clay Covid-19 Compliance Monitor

Commissioned and produced by Manchester International Festival
get tickets project info
big ben project