Tuesday, June 2, 2015

You’ll have to wait 100 years to read these books

onceptual artist Katie Paterson announced the Oslo Future Library Project on her website (katiepaterson.org). She wrote:

“A forest in Norway is growing. In 100 years it will become an anthology of books.

A forest has been planted in Norway, which will supply paper for a special anthology of books to be printed in one
hundred years time. Between now and then, one writer every year will contribute a text, with the writings held in trust, unpublished, until 2114.

The texts will be held in a specially designed room in the New Public Deichmanske Library, Oslo. Tending the forest and ensuring its preservation for the 100-year duration of the artwork finds a conceptual counterpoint in the invitation extended to each writer: to conceive and produce a work in the hopes of finding a receptive reader in an unknown future.

Future Library is commissioned and supported by Bjørvika Utvikling.”

It’s not a joke. “Future Library” is a public art project. One commissioned writer every year for one hundred years will contribute an unpublished manuscript which will remain unpublished and unread until 2114. At that time, the entire collection of manuscripts will be published in an anthology of books made from paper produced by the forest of trees.

A limited edition artwork in the form of a certificate will entitle the buyer to one complete set of the texts when they are published in 2114.

Canadian author Margaret Atwood was selected as the first author to contribute to the collection. In a “Handover Day” ceremony on Tuesday, she presented the secret manuscript, entitled “Scribbler Moon,” to Ms. Paterson who then gave it to a library representative to be locked away. This ritual will be repeated every year for the next 99 years. Mrs. Atwood refused to reveal any details about her manuscript.

Margaret Atwood and Katie Paterson

David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas, number9dream, and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, has been selected as the second writer. His “Handover Day” ceremony will be scheduled in 2016.

Paterson, a native of Scotland, is known for her conceptual art. She has exhibited internationally and her works have been included in major exhibitions at the Tate, the Guggenheim, The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and The Powerplant in Toronto. Several of her artworks are described in the press release for the Future Library Project. One involved broadcasting the sounds of a melting glacier live to a visitor on a mobile phone in an art gallery. In another, she mapped all the dead stars, compiling a slide archive of the “history of darkness across the ages.” In another, she buried a nano-sized grain of sand deep within the Sahara desert.

Short films and additional information are available at futurelibrary.no.

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