Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Future Library - a literary treasure trove for the next century

Future Library by Katie Peterson

Recently I heard about an amazing new artwork call Future Library being created in Norway by the Scottish artist, Katie Paterson. But this isn't a painting or a sculpture. This work of art is a forest of trees, and in one hundred years, it will become an anthology of books. Literally! 

Katie Peterson and The City of Oslo have planted a thousand trees in a forest just outside the city. The trees will be looked after until 2114, one hundred years from now.  In each of those hundred years, one author will be commissioned to write a manuscript of some sort and that piece of writing will be placed, unpublished, in a secure and specially designed room in the new public library being built in Oslo. They will all remain unread until the collection of one hundred manuscripts is complete.
Katie Peterson
Then in 2114, the trees will be cut down and the wood will be used to supply paper for a special anthology of books in which 100 years of writing will be published.

Last month, Katie Paterson announced that Canadian author, Margaret Atwood, is the first author to be invited to write and submit something for the anthology which will not be read for a century. Margaret Atwood was born in 1939, but how strange to think that many of the writers who will take part in this amazing artistic concept have not even been born yet (in fact, their parents might not even have been born yet!)
Margaret Atwood and Katie Peterson

The Future Library website has two lovely films about the project.  There is a short movie with Katie Peterson talking about it while searching the forest floor for the tiny trees to be planted, and there is also a wonderful interview with Katie and with Margaret Atwood herself.

I love this idea and hope it does not fall victim the vagueries of local government budget cuts and political posturing. And I so wish that I were the type of person who could have and share the vision for such an optimistic project - optimistic for the future of reading and writing and indeed, for the future of the human race - but I'm afraid I'm just not. I am simply the kind of person to feel enormous disappointment that, chances are, I won't be around to see those beautiful trees become beautiful books around the time of my 147th birthday.

For more information, visit: futurelibrary.no and to keep in touch with the authors as they are invited to take part, Like Future Library on Facebook.

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