Change Reference 2; Libreria Donceles

Librería Donceles by Pablo Helguera is a pop up bookstore of approximately thousand used books all in Spanish and of every subject from literature, poetry, art, history, science, medicine, anthropology, economics, politics, and children’s books. Librería Donceles gets its name from the old bookstores that line Donceles Street in Mexico City’s historic center.  It was installed in the Kent Fine Arts Center in 2013 and at the time, Librería Donceles wasthe only Spanish-language used-book store in the city. This is important since there are nearly two million Spanish speakers in New York yet a complete lack of accessible books and literature  in Spanish. The project also speaks to the relevant truth that online resources are making book stores obsolete, which is especially pertinent to low income and minority citizens without access or funds for online texts.

To create Librería Donceles, Helguera assembled donations of books from individuals and groups in Mexico City and other cuites, offering to exchange boxes of books for a piece of his artwork and the production of an Ex Libris for each donor that is specific to the particular provenance of the volume. Helguera hopes to “foster the open-ended and unhurried environment that draws people to used-book stores, where customers enter without a particular title in mind and instead roam the shelves with the hope of spontaneously discovering a book that beckons them” ( Visitors to the Librería Donceles— both Spanish-speakers and non-Spanish-speakers—will be invited to have a talk with the artist or an associate on staff. Once their interests and “bibliological profile” (as Helguera has described it) have been assessed, they will be given suggestions on where to loofor good books. Only one book per customer will be allowed at the price of a “pay-what-you-want” donation, and proceeds from these transactions will be donated to local Spanish reading programs for immigrant communities.

Pablo Helguera – Exhibitions – Kent Fine Art

This project satisfies the notion of change because it directly addresses the problem of minority silencing in the New York area and creates a venue at which non-English speakers who really make up this community can feel a part of it and feel like their language and culture are respected.

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