“A forest in Norway is growing. In 100 years it will become an anthology of books.” (Katie Paterson)

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The other day, together with a couple of friends, we set out on a mission to find the place where saplings have been planted to supply paper for a special anthology of books from the Future Library that will be printed in one hundred years time. In the woods north of Oslo we followed the instructions on the map provided alongside the documentation about the first book Scribbler Moon written by Margaret Atwood.

This artwork conceived by Katie Paterson captured my imagination when I heard about it a year or so ago. The Future Library (2014 -2114)  is a conceptual piece that deals with time. At the present, only parts of the work can be experienced such as the growing forest and soon the ‘silent room’ – a specially designed space by the artist for the new Deichmanske Public Library (ready in 2018) in Oslo. Here each of the annually commissioned manuscripts by writers will be held but cannot be read for the coming century, only their titles indicate their contents. What I like about this artwork is that it grapples with the notion of ‘deep time’ where we have to extend our imagination into a larger, temporal context – a hundred years away –and as such forge a connection with a future reader of the texts. As an ancestor I am curious and excited by how the readers of the anthology will receive it? And if?…

The future is uncertain… and we didn’t find the exact spot in the forest despite following the indications. However we saw a clearing where we imagined the saplings growing and decided that perhaps next year we will endeavour to set out on a pilgrimage to see the trees of the future library again.

Watch a film about it here.

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