Librería Donceles is an itinerant, second-hand bookstore, created by Pablo Helguera in 2013 to serve the growing Hispanic and Latino communities and their limited access to Spanish-language books in the United States. Since it was first installed in New York City, Librería Donceles has traveled to Phoenix, San Francisco, Brooklyn, and now Seattle. Each time that it has been presented, it has been the sole Spanish-language used bookstore within that city. There are millions of Spanish speakers in the United States and yet there is a scarcity of books available in Spanish. The situation has been made more critical by transformations in the publishing industry, and with the rise of digital publications and online retailers.
Comprising 20,000 volumes on topics ranging from anthropology, biography, and economics, to psychology, science, and theater, the books in Librería Donceles were all donated in exchange for artworks created by Helguera. Each book bears the name of its donor on a plate inside its front cover, pointing to the social history of each book.
Visitors to the bookstore are allowed to purchase one book per visit, at a price that they set themselves, substituting the terms of a market economy with those of a gift economy.
While at the Henry
, Libreria Donceles is being staffed by volunteers and act as a meeting place for the community, hosting a lively series of readings, performances, workshops, and discussions.
Pablo Helguera is a New York-based artist whose practice has continuously addressed issues of memory, ethnography, pedagogy, and the absurd through installation, socially engaged art, sculpture, and performance. Helguera has exhibited or performed at venues such as the Museo de Arte Reina, Sofia, Madrid; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Royal College of Art, London; 8th Havana Biennal, Havana; PERFORMA 05, New York; Shedhalle, Zurich; MoMA P.S.1, Long Island City; IFA Galerie, Bonn; Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Tokyo; MALBA Museum, Buenos Aires; Ex-Teresa Espacio Alternativo, Mexico City; Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York City; Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn; The Guggenheim, New York City; SITE Santa Fe Biennial, Santa Fe; Artist Space, New York City; Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), Brooklyn and Sculpture Center, Long Island City, among many others. Helguera is the recipient of a Creative Capital Grant (2005) and a Guggenheim Fellowship (2008), as well as the first International Award for Participatory Art (2011).