It would have been something to behold. In 2004 Swiss artist Thomas Hirschhorn was invited to create a piece for the Walker Art Center 'Walker Without Walls' series.
His idea: To build a 50 foot replica of the book A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia by the French philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari.
Inside the giant book there would be a library of philosophy books, room for all the things necessary to print a daily newspaper, and a meeting and exhibition space. Outside there would be a cafe.
The installation was tentatively titled The Road-Side Giant Book Project and was scheduled to last 2 months. It was to be placed on Lake Street in a diverse mixed-income neighborhood in South Minneapolis.
Max Andrews, who was a visual arts fellow at the Walker during this time, summed up the project best:
[The] project will function not only as a mega-sculpture, but as an ambitious center for philosophy. Deleuze and Guattari’s book is a landmark of continental thought, one that explodes philosophy by exploring it in terms of a host of other disciplines: from popular film and music to genetics and ecology. Hirschhorn will create his provocatively large book-structure in this spirit of bringing philosophy to life, compelling the community to question what role philosophy plays on the street. The artist will be on site every day of the project to animate a series of challenging lectures, produce and distribute a daily newspaper, and invite the participation of the community. As a giant bookkeeper, he will create a library and a “Galazy of Philosophy” exhibition in a room inside the book, as well as host a community run café right outside. “It’s a project for the love of art in Minneapolis,” Hirschhorn says, and The Road-Side Giant Book Project, while far too large to be flying off the shelves and far too heavy to be “unputdownable,” promises to deliver a profound thud on the Lake Street doormat this summer."
Hirschhorn realized that by placing the work in such a neighborhood it would most likely be the subject of vandalism and graffitii – "all risks, he says, that are integral to a project he alternately called an experiment, an affirmation, and a confrontation."
So why wasn't such an intriguing project never completed?
"The project unfortunately outgrew its budget and was never realized" is how Paul Smeltzer frames it but I can see other factors coming into play for this is a very political piece.
My hope is that someday, somewhere in America, Hirschhorn can build this thing.