A Book Labyrinth in London

Screenshot from Oxfam GB, “aMAZEme – Artists create giant book maze from Oxfam’s donated books – timelapse video”, August 7, 2012, via YouTube.

I could use a little levity, so today we’re looking back to summer of 2012 when a book labyrinth appeared in London.

2012 was a busy time for London. The city was hosting the Summer Olympics and holding numerous cultural events alongside it. One of those events was Southbank Centre’s Festival of the World. As part of the festival, Brazilian artists Marcos Saboya and Gualter Pupo along with HungryMan productions created a labyrinth of 250,000 books that they titled aMAZEme.

The exhibit featured 250,000 books and covered over 1,600 square feet. It took 50 volunteers 4 days to construct it. Though the “book walls” varied in height, the tallest of them reached eight feet, high enough for most people to get lost in. Visitors were encouraged to read the books used in the exhibit, walk through it, and enjoy the literary quotes that were projected alongside it.

You can see the construction of the maze in the video below.


Unlike the 100,000 banned books used to build a replication of the Parthenon, the books in aMAZEme went on to fund philanthropic projects. Oxfam, an international group of charitable organizations, loaned the artists 150,000 books for the exhibit, and major publishers like Cambridge University Press, Random House, and MacMillan Publishers donated the remaining books. The books were later sold in Oxfam’s charity store.

Books were the perfect construction material for this exhibit because as one of the artists said, the labyrinth was like a novel filled with

“fake entrances, exits that exit, straight curves, straight lines, overturned abysses, brittle sand stones, blunt edges, filled holes, evident secret pathways, compressed stars, wide valleys, unbridgeable straits, blinding thick rain, longitudinal sea currents, invisible avalanches, still winds, inaudible requests, mislaid sentences.”

But those swirls and edges didn’t simply arise from the imagination of the artists; they modeled the maze after a simplified version of the shape of writer Jorge Luis Borgesfingerprints.

I like the idea of a book maze, and it seems that this one was executed beautifully. I do, however, regret that I never had the chance to see this exhibit when it was displayed.

If you want to see more from the exhibit, you can explore the gallery posted to the Washington Post’s website.


16 thoughts on “A Book Labyrinth in London

      1. You’d need a big garden for the classic maze – we’ve been to the one at Hampton Court and at Hever Castle there is a classic yew maze and a water maze.

        Liked by 1 person

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