Banned Books in Australia A Special Collections-Art in the Library Exhibition

Jenny Zhe Chang

Contemporary Banned Books

Jenny Zhe Chang: Contemporary Banned Books

Contemporary Banned Books is a series of oversized book sculptures which symbolise the hundreds of books that have been banned by the authorities in the name of protecting the moral welfare of citizens, maintaining social order and securing the state from real or imaginary enemies since 1854.

The artwork is made of bright orange safety mesh. This material is commonly used as safety fences around construction sites or hazardous areas. Like the disposability of this material, most banned books questioned earlier were often no longer controversial at a later date.

The orange colour of the safety mesh denotes the energy and warmth of the writers. The black letters on the cover indicate doom, despair and darkness. The silver letters symbolise the writers' longing for greater literary freedom.

There are images of eyes, fire and nails that can be viewed through each artwork. The elements represent the witness of burning, hiding and reading banned books.

The final element of the artwork is the bright yellow chain, which renders the book immobile. It is like the human chained at Plato’s cave, or is a metaphor for the cave, and is intended to challenge the viewer to question why, how, when and should or shouldn’t banned books be released to the public.

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